…and He Stood His Ground


When I was a young boy I used to go on vacations at the home of my maternal grandparents. My paternal grandparents died decades before. My father was an orphan by age ten.

I used to watch my grandfather. He was my good friend. He would wake up in the morning and sit on the side of the bed for what I thought was a long time. Eventually I would have what I considered the honor of helping him oil his feet. They were always very dry and I got to apply an oil that he liked.  We were buddies. I think the oil felt good to him and I remember that being able to apply it made me feel good.

I was only about 7 or 8 years old and this was long before the advent of video games. We had a small black & white television but it was only viewed at night when something special was on. My grandmother liked to listen to baseball games (a Yankee fan) but that didn’t interest me. Gramps and I entertained each other.  We sang and whistled. We laughed. We were friends!

Gramps had an accident before I was born. As a result one leg was shorter that the other. Gramps wore an elevated shoe on the foot of the shorter leg. He walked with a cane. None of that stopped him from escorting me all over town. We went to the hosiery mill that he used to work in. He took me to the neighborhood barber shop and the local mom & pop stores. We even went to the movies where we sat in the upstairs section reserved for people who looked like us. Everyone was always glad to see me and Gramps. They often gave me gifts like penny candy or little spinning tops. Life with Gramps was grand. I thought that was why he was called my grandfather!

One day I knew that Gramps was sick. He came to the city where I lived.  After what seemed to be a long time of being in the hospital Gramps died. I was 12 years old. I missed Gramps. Everyone did. My grandmother would never be the same again.

Decades have gone by but this morning I thought about Gramps. I still miss him and he is still my friend. I notice that each morning when I awaken I sit on the side of the bed for more than a few minutes. I am thinking of what I need to do for the day …making my plan. Maybe that’s what Gramps used to do. I don’t discuss what I’m thinking about with anyone. Eventually I put the day in motion. I keep a container of shea butter near the bed. Most days I apply some to my feet. It always makes my feet feel and look better.

It makes smile, and tear a little, to recognize these similarities between me and Gramps.

I’ll tell you another thing about Gramps. After sitting on the edge of the bed in silence and having his feet oiled he’d put on his socks. He’d pick up his cane, which rested on the headboard, and get fully dressed. Then he would take a few steps in the center of the room. I would be right beside him. He would then go out the front door into the yard (small by today’s standard). There, before doing anything else, He Stood His Ground.

You really don’t need a weapon to Stand Your Ground.

oldman  ibou in high point circa 1953

Gramps taught me that. I’m glad I learned that from him.