Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long" .- The First of my "Grandpop" stories

Howdy Folks,

"Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long" started out as a stand alone short story. Over the next few months I've had reason to write more "Grandpop" stories. Coffee Clutch friends have told me they enjoy visiting with Grandpop. I hope you'll enjoy his company too. You can read our second visit with Grandpop "Independence Day" (HERE)  

Perhaps I Just Lived Too Long.

He sat on a straw bale looking out at the horses seeking shade under the lone oak. "Good lookin' bunch aren't they?"  His hand shook uncontrollably as he fumbled with the pearl white snap on his shirt pocket. Finally he pulled out a black bill fold, as weathered and worn as the unsteady hand holding it. Folding it open with gnarled fingers, he tugged and tugged until he retrieved a tiny, cracked and faded black and white photo from its hiding place behind his driver's license. Passing it to me he said, "4 of us from right here in Liberty County fought together for 3 years in that hellish place over there. Why I even marched right into Paris ... Only 2 of us made it back home." He dragged a shaky hand across his eyes then pointed to a tall grinning youth in the background. "That was my brother, Jim. He wasn't one of them."  With tired eyes that held the alertness of eyes that had seen much, he caught mine. "We didn't know all we were fighting for then, but we knew something was very wrong."
He pulled out another faded photo. "Got married in '48." Those tired brown eyes beamed when his unsteady finger pointed to a beautiful woman holding a fine looking young boy. "My wife, Lucy, don't reckon you ever met her. She died in '70 a year after we lost our son, Shane, in Viet Nam." 

He took the picture, traced the pretty face. "We sure had some fine times together, Lucy, Shane and me. Built this ranch with our own hands and sweat. Worked hard, played hard." He looked at me and grinned. "Loved hard too, young fella." He snatched his cane, nodded to the horses, "Let's go have a look at those mares."

As we walked he talked about the struggles and joys of building the ranch, and the love of family, God and country. When we reached the tree, most of the mares kept their distance, but he draped his arms over the back of a Bay he called, Fancy. "Things feel a little wrong here right now, young fella." He looked up through the branches of the oak, pulled off his faded and dusty hat. "I don't want to pretend I understand very much, but things just feel out of whack. Feels like something is very wrong. This group of people hating that group of people. Half the kids getting out of college and finding no work. Why heck my neighbor told me Clint Eastwood said something like 23 million folks are out of work. Everybody looking to the government to fix everything."

He stroked Fancy's mane, then went on. "I was proud to vote for John Kennedy. Prouder still when we watched his Inaugural speech, on the first TV we ever had." He chuckled then went on, "You're a might young to remember that, but he had a line I never forgot, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." I don't know if folks care about that anymore. And there is something wrong with that."

As we walked back to the barn and he told me he didn't understand all the folks calling themselves hyphenated Americans. To him it felt as if they didn't know who they wanted to be. "I heard John Wayne once say that little dash separates as well as connects." He explained. "Aren't we all Americans?" He said he didn't understand when so many folks decided it was wrong to be proud to be an American. Or right to hate somebody that started a business and hired people. "Something just feels wrong with that. I was downright happy to find a job cowboyin' as soon as I got home and I was never jealous of my boss' cattle … When my day came, Lucy and I just started our own ranch."

We had one last cup of coffee, I got in my truck and watched him fade into the darkness of the old barn, then drove back to town. 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Read the next visit with Grandpop "Independence Day" (HERE) and you'll find a link to the third story there too.