My grandfather (left) and a pal go for a spin
Washing the dishes this morning made me think of my grandfather. Maybe it’s because today is his birthday.
He suffered from arthritis in his hands, and found washing the dishes soothed the pain. He used to sit on one of the red leather topped stools, which usually stood ready at the breakfast bar, and sing as he worked. I loved to dry the dishes and listen to his stories. He had a million of them. In my mind’s eye, I can still see him under the warm kitchen light, our reflections mirrored in the dark glass of the windows over the sink.
Although my grandmother was the gardener in the family, tending to the flower beds (the flowers I always associate with her are lilacs – my own favorite – lilies of the valley, pansies, and forget-me-nots) and fruit trees, my grandfather, who we called Hoho because of his huge, wonderful laugh, had his vegetable garden.
This garden was beside the creek which separated my grandparents’ property from the high school, where Hoho was principal for many years until he finally retired, far too late to do my mother any good. Can you imagine your Dad being your high school principal? Especially the kind of Dad who pulled practical jokes on you when you were home late from dates, like hanging cold, wet spaghetti from the doorframe, so you’d scream and wake him up. Then he’d know exactly how late you were.
Of all the things Hoho grew in his garden patch, his favorite was early spring onions. As soon as they were ready, he’d pull them up and bring them home, eating some on the way, as sunny, careless, and happy as if he were a young boy again, back on his father’s farm.