Granddad was a simple man; A truly humble man.
I can still see him as he was every Sunday morning, standing up front dressed in overalls, hands raised high, bald head tilted back, just worshiping the Lord with all his might. It didn’t bother him none that he was way up front in the very first pew, that he sang loudest of all or that he was wearing them overalls whilst everyone else had on their Sunday finery. In fact, I don’t think he even noticed.
At 6 feet 9 inches tall Granddad towered over most. Grandma used to compare him to the weeping willow trees growing out back around the mill pond. I secretly thought the cartoon character Elmer Fudd, was more apt, but of course I’d never say so out loud. I think it was account of his bald head, the well worn overalls, and easy going ways.
Though he never came across that way, Granddad was incredibly wise. Most folks would probably call him a fool. I suppose, that’s because Granddad had a real knack for coming up short, as most anyone could, and did, get the better of him. In fact, if there was a good deal to be had, well you could get it from Granddad. Likewise, if there was a short end of the stick to be given out, then most likely Granddad had that too.
Granddads ways didn’t bother Grandma none, but they sure did rattle Uncle Henry. She must have known Granddads secret. Uncle Henry didn’t.
I remember once Uncle Henry got so mad his face turned redder than a beat. He stood stiff as a board; both fists clenched at his side, just trying to hold on to himself, but busted out anyway, “Pa, why do you always let folks take advantage of you? Why, that old coot is lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut. He’s got more money than we’ll ever see. He should have paid a fair wage for the fine work you did.”
Granddad just smiled, reached out one gigantic paw and gently cupped Uncle Henry’s shoulder. Granddad looked into Uncle Henry’s eyes real intent for a moment and quietly said something. Then he just went back to work, humming his favorite tune. I couldn’t hear what Granddad said, but Uncle Henry never seemed to get quite so riled up after that time. Maybe Granddad told Uncle Henry his secret.
One day, Grandma and I were walking out back under the Willow trees, arm in arm, when I asked, “Grandma, why is Granddad like them Willow trees to you?”
“Mercy me child, Granddad has a heart of pure gold just like Jesus. See how those branches spread far and wide? Why a body can get completely lost, feel safe and secure under them. Granddads love is just like that, it takes in everyone, and it spreads over anyone who comes near. Granddad, just plain loves folks and loves on them. He is who he is, no matter what.”
“Why, doesn’t Granddad ever get mad or stand up for himself? Folks are awful mean to him sometimes.”
“I asked Granddad that same question once, a long time ago when we was courting. He told me that as near as he could tell, according to the good book, most all of the evil in this world came about because someone was busy wishing they had what some other fellow had, was holding a grudge, taking offense, trying to hang on to something, get what wasn’t rightly theirs or get back at one another.”
At my questioning look Grandma continued, “Why, even Lucifer fell because he wanted what the Almighty had. Then in the garden, Eve ate that apple just to get more knowledge, and even Cain killed his brother Abel because he was cross that his offering wasn’t accepted by God. Of course it was the wrong one, but that didn’t matter to old Cain. He was just mad at God and Abel for an offense that should never have been taken.
I slowly nodded my head up and down, pondering her words. “I see what you mean Grandma, but just how does Granddad do it?”
“Well, child, love is a powerful thing. Granddad figures that it’s his job to keep his heart full of love for the Almighty and his creation. So that’s just what he chooses to do. A body just can’t live any better life than that.”
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