My grandfather was a real character. So I guess it was only a matter of time before he showed up in one of my novels.
Grandpa stuttered when he got excited (which was often). He could also swear a blue streak. Nobody else in my family ever swore, but Grandpa let the damns and hells fly as much as any fire and brimstone preacher during a revival meeting. Combine the cussing with the stuttering and it was pure theater for us kids.
Grandpa also enjoyed getting Grandma riled up. But mind you, she could take it; in fact, it became apparent as I grew older that Grandma ruled the roost. She didn’t swear, but I cannot tell you how many times she called Grandpa an “old fool.” They were as fun to be around as any modern sit-com family.
The acreage my grandparents lived on was a kid paradise. There was cleared land and forested land. The cleared land was left with stumps, and among the stumps roamed sheep and chickens. Old appliances and pre-owned vehicles used for target practice rusted in peace (and pieces). No chance of getting locked in the old refrigerators as the evening news was wont to warn against—the doors were always missing. Also in the field were cages of animals he had trapped (I know, not politically correct) and his roosters for cockfighting. There was a barn leaning over so far we didn’t dare go in it in case it should fall while we were inside. In the forested land we hunted wildflowers every year at Easter; delicate pink “lady’s slippers,” buttercups, trillium.
The inside of the house was not without its own charm. A large deer head protruded from the wall behind Grandpa’s recliner. He always told us kids that a deer had been running very fast and crashed right through. We, of course, believed this for many years. And then there was the large glassed taxidermy display cabinet that had been passed down from my great-grandparents and hung prominently over the sofa. I don’t know what ever happened to it, and in speaking with my siblings, the one thing we all remember was that starched upright squirrel with the nut between its paws. It’s an image I dare any child to forget. Best of all, however, was my uncle’s tiny bedroom, overflowing with comic books. I never bought a comic book in my life, but I grew up reading Superman, Batman, the Green Hornet, and Archie, there in my grandparent’s home.
I was fortunate that my grandparents lived well into my adulthood. As a child, I was a little afraid of my grandpa, mostly because he was friendly and I was shy. As an adult I found out he was kind, loving, accepting, and sensitive. When my first child—my daughter—was born, I remember trying to hand her over to Grandpa to hold. He refused, thinking somehow, that he wouldn’t do it right, that he might “break” her or something. Another time, when he asked about something in my life that wasn’t going well and I started to explain, he teared up and stopped me, having heard enough. I realized he was the big softy in the family.
After Grandma passed, Grandpa didn’t last long. Old fool or not, they were a pair; entwined until the very end.
Grandpa is hidden in the pages of my third novel, Seed Savers:Heirloom, due for release in November. The digital version of book one, Treasure, is on sale now at Amazon and Smashwords for $1.00 (code is located on the Smashwords page.)