It was just the summer routine: Grandma and Grandpa would drive into our driveway sometime in the late morning. We would rush out to greet them...and to collect the bag of donuts he always brought. He'd usually bring some Swiss cheese from the factory he'd pass by on his way to our home.(He and some other men started that cheese factory as a co-op when they were young farmers.) Grandma was shorter than me in most of my memories, but that's just because I grew tall at a young age. Grandpa always wore a nice felt hat, or sometimes, a straw hat, but he always wore a hat. Grandma always wore a dress, with hose and black, lace-up shoes with a little heel.
He came ready to work. There was always something at our farm that needed built, rebuilt, painted, repaired, taken down, put back up, etc. etc. I realize now that he was a great boon to my dad. Daddy had his hands full just keeping the irrigation current, the hay mowed and baled, the animals fed, and cared for, so to have his father-in-law come every week in the summer and build corral fences, and repair the barn doors, and add on to my mother's chicken coop was a blessing. Plus, we got to help!! Imagine the "helpers" --- eight and nine year old girls with our four year old brother tagging along. But, we could paint very well, after Grandpa showed us how to do it. (Luckily he also had my older sisters who were teens.) Those lovely plank fences around the barnyard were beautiful when painted white. The new barn doors looked terrific not sagging off their hinges, with the bright new stripes of white criss-crossing the red like an iconic barn should look. He repaired the sidewalks, he built us a cement block milk house with a cooling tank for the cans, and a place to wash the milkers.
My mother would feed us all dinner (that is the 1:00P.M. meal on a farm) and then Grandpa would go back out to complete whatever project was started that morning. Daddy would take a little, much-needed nap, and then, after we girls had cleaned up the kitchen and done the dishes, my mom could do Grandma's hair. She'd shampoo it, and then curl it into little pinwheels with bobby pins. Then, it would dry overnight, and Grandma would be all ready for church the next day. When the hair was finished, and it was about four in the afternoon, Grandpa and Grandma would pack up their car with the fresh eggs from my mother's chickens, and sometimes they'd take a loaf of bread, and maybe some of the vegetables from the garden, or a jar or two of whatever my mother was canning, and head back home--about 30 miles away, in the "lower valley" (which was actually north of us, but down-river.)
I don't know how my grandpa and his brother had the energy, stamina, or even the knee joints to do all the building they did on my parents' farm when I was a child. But, I know that he did it from a sense of duty to help my parents improve the little run-down place they'd bought when I was baby. That is a really long story, that doesn't need to be told here. Let's just say, that Grandpa felt he owed them.
But, my Grandpa, the one who I remember from the 1960s had become a different little fellow by the 1970s. My grandmother had died, right after I finished high school, and two years before that, their beloved youngest son, had been killed in a plane crash while serving as a test pilot in the US Air Force. He really became an old man after those losses. I was married and living away in SoCal when Grandpa finally couldn't live alone anymore. He had to give up his driving privileges, and he ended up living for a month or two with each of his three daughters for several years. Then, the family finally needed to have him enter a care center for his last few years.
Talking to my younger brothers and sisters, I realize that the Grandpa I knew was not the Grandpa they'd known. Those ten years between when I was a little girl and then became a woman, were years that really aged him. Instead of the busy grandpa who built hay sheds, and poured new sidewalks, he'd become the old grandpa who complained that the kids these days laid around too much. This was upon seeing my teen-aged brothers laying on the couch watching a T.V. show after they'd hauled hay all day, and milked the cows twice.
He passed away at age 91. His legacy is still standing at my parents' old farm: fences and buildings that probably need him to come by on a Saturday, and mobilize a painting crew! He was one of those "Hurrying Haderlies" who worked as hard as he could, all of his life. He was a good, good man, and I cherish my memories of this awesome Grandpa.