I saw this post on the Food Network's Healthy Eats blog about Concord Grape Smoothies and it made me think of my grandpa. I've spoken about my small, spunky Grandma Polly. Her deceased husband, my Grandpa Red (yes, Red and Polly, adorable, hm? :)) once grew concord grapes in their backyard. They had a nice, big wooden arbor and grew the dark purple grapes in the summers. They would turn them into delicious, fresh juice. My brother and I stayed with them in the summers for many years while my parents were at work and we were out of school. I remember walking into their home and smelling coffee, hearing news radio and I still find those smells and sounds comforting. If I close my eyes, I can picture their home and feel that same feeling. They haven't lived in that house for 20+ years, but I can still picture it like I was there yesterday. I am not overly fond of grape juice, but sometimes, in the summer, it sounds so good, refreshing. I'm sure it is because of those summer days I had fresh juice at Grandpa's.
I've talked about Grandma before, but not as much about Grandpa. He's been gone since our youngest daughter was a baby. His name was Kenneth, but he was called "Red" because of his hair. He had the typical "red-head temper". Firey-was road rage before it had a name. I remember slumping down in the back seat as he gestured for drivers to pull over a time or two! He was a carpenter by trade, an excellent one. Could make things just by looking at them. I have a hope chest and a bread box he made. Both wonderful works of wood. He made toys, wall cabinets in lawyers' offices, tray tables-he had quite a gift. He had just finished a baby doll cradle for my youngest daughter the day before he died. He would challenge me to debates and switch sides halfway through... say things like, "just think." He liked to get me going on emotion and then cause me to think halfway through. I take pride in that he didn't do that with very many of his grandkids.
He was in WWII. He was in the Navy, the SeaBees. They were a construction battalion that would go in and get things set for the navy to come in behind them. His stories were amazing and frightening. He went into the military before he was of legal age to, lying about his age. He told us stories of hiding under tankers as Japanese fighter planes flew over, shooting at them. I think of him even more acutely on Veteran's day.
He, like Gram Polly, had such a spunk, a fight in them. He wasn't a saint, he was ornery, thought boys could do things better than girls and wow, was his temper short, but he loved us and we knew it. He loved to play cards and the marble game aggravation. He and Gram were quite the pair.
Did you know your grandparents, Readers? I know many people who didn't get to. I was lucky enough to know all four of mine very well.