Friday, October 13, 2006

Welcome (and Happy Birthday, Gramp!)

Welcome to my blog!

Today would have been my grandfather's 98th birthday.

Gramp was an ordinary fellow, and an extraordinary person. He wasn't the type to have a motto (that would have been putting on airs), but "If you want the job done right, do it yourself" would have been fitting.

Third of 11 children, he dropped out of school after 8th grade and went to work to help support the family.

He married my grandmother during the Great Depression. Lucky to have a job in town, Gramp also leased and oversaw a farm, giving many of my grandmother's cousins an opportunity to work for room, board and whatever income the farm could bring in.

After WWII, he bought some land outside Topeka. Working alongside each subcontractor, Gramp learned plumbing, electrical, stone masonry and more as he built their white limestone house from the basement to the rafters.

The first grandchild, I remember spending summer evenings in the garage, watching him work on engines--or in the basement, as he stood outside the back door, staring down a tornado.

Gramp taught me how to plant corn, what the color of smoke told you about an engine (black meant burning oil, white meant carburetor problems), how to catch a snake that was raiding bird nests (put a fishing hook in a raw egg and hang it from a branch), how long highway concrete should cure before driving on it (30 days, with regular wetting down), and what different cloud formations told you about the coming weather. If you wanted to know how something worked--natural or mechanical--ask Gramp.

Seven weeks before my wedding, Gramp entered his final illness at 93. The doctors gave him two weeks, a month at the most. From New York to California, Illinois to Texas, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren hurried back to Kansas.

Over and over, he told me he didn't want anything to interfere with the wedding--we were to put him in cold storage and bury
him after it was over. But, through sheer force of will--and love--he held on. Gramp passed away three days after the wedding.

I love you, Gramp!

6 comments:

Eva said...

What a lovely memory to have of Charley... You are right he was a humble and good man. So handy-do not know what the Elrod's home would have been like without him! Your blog brought back some pleasant times shared with the Pattersons over the years that I had not thoughtabout for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Holly. I was telling Becky on the way home this evening that Dad's birthday still appears on my office outlook ... " C. W. Patterson's Birthday Today". I just can't seem to bring myself to remove it yet.

I know he would have been most delighted about the events of this coming weekend if he could have been there. But his spirit will be there ... alive in all of us over whom he had such a great impact.

Mark

Anonymous said...

He sounds like he was quite an influence on your life! What wonderful memories you must have!

Comeka said...

What a great start to your blog Holly! Reading it brought tears (good ones!) to my eyes!

Can't wait to see future posts . . .

Anonymous said...

Charley, to me, was the grandpa everyone always wanted to have. He was soft-spoken, wise, kind, funny, handy with tools, and the calm voice of reason in a crisis. I would guess that anyone who knew Charley respected and loved him.
Betsy Pringle (Cricket's sister)

Alison said...

Holly,
That is such a moving story. It is so wonderful that you are able to have such great memories of your grandfather!