Didn’t know Lucinda’d change me ferever…that whipper snapper of a granddaughther. Saw right through my overalls and dirt and plopped her darlin’ little heart in my hands, yes she did. And what business did she have doin’ that, I ask ya? Softenin’ me up? Didn’t she know a man has to be a man, not some…wimpy emotional balder-dash?
Still, I do love her fer it. I love her fer askin’ to comb my hair with her brush – what little’s left, that is. I love her fer bringing the new barn kitten to me that time….insistin’ I sit on the hay bale and hold the scrawny little thing while she thought up names like Howard and George and things that sounded all strong and gruff. I love her fer peekin’ around the corner ever time I stand in my long johns brushin’ my teeth – giggling the whole durn time. I love her fer kickin’ me up a notch, away from somethin’ I never was in the first place.
Cause ya see, manliness was all about being tough in my family when I was growin’ up. The tougher the better, and tough meant gruff. I was always that way. Until Lucinda showed up, I mean. Then I couldn’t help myself. It wasn’t about bein’ tough no longer. Not a’tall. It was about bein’ warm and close and all those lovey things I thought was just fer girls, you know?
I mean, I wasn’t about to be a wimp – never had no place fer men who weren’t real men. No siree, not me! But Lucinda taught me that tenderness ain’t the same as bein’ wimpy. It’s beyond that. She opened up a door inside me somehow that was shut tight ever since….well, ever since my friend Jed tole me I wasn’t no man anyhow. Tole me I was a sissy; tole me I was too “sensitive.” Might as well of been kicked open by the old mule, yessir. That was when we was about thirteen, I guess. Well, right then and there I closed the door on bein’ soft. I wasn’t goin’ to be no softie, girly boy.
Until Lucinda came along. Jus’ think…all those years later….how’d she do it? Why, she was hardly born when she hooked me like a big ole’ grumpy catfish with that precious little face. Ya know what I mean? Those blue eyes, they looked right through me; maybe even trusted me? After her first few wobbles walkin’ my way…I was a goner. Fer sure.
Now Lucinda’s thirteen hersef, a real young lady. She’s taught me how to make Valentine cards, recite Bible verses, bake cookies – “Grandpa, you’re so sloppy!” – dress dolls, and love an unlovable, stiff old man. She’s going to forget me one of these days, I kin just feel it – when some young man catches her eye. Still, until then, I’m proud to say I’m her “number one best ever boyfriend in the whole world.” That’s what she tells me, anyhow.
I guess she’s right. I’d just be a crotchety old man if it wasn’t fer Lucinda. Bless her heart. She’s an angel…yup, that’s right. A messenger straight from God…..teachin’ this old man what it’s like to be loved by a little bit ‘o nothun that kin make him feel, an even act like, some thun special…..
Now I ask you. Who’d I be without Lucinda? I’d be some lonely, hard old ex-farmer, chewin’ over regrets along with my straw. But Lucinda’s loved me back to life. Yes, she did. And I’m thankin’ God fer her tonight. Yes siree, I am….
Read more articles by Beth Muehlhausen or search for articles on the same topic or others.