Tuesday, August 22, 2006

False Security

Everything went round like clockwork. We always knew what everyone did five minutes ago, was doing now or would do in an hour. We knew it by the time of day and the season. That’s just the way it is on the farm. At 10 a.m. Grandpa had already had coffee with some kind of bread. He had sat at the end of the table where he always sat. I never saw him sit at the table in any other chair. No tablecloth was ever used, but there were always four placemats. I knew that if it was ten O'clock now, he had been sitting at the oval table not long ago with his coffee on the placemat and some kind of sweet roll or maybe some kind of bread with syrup. He'd had half and half sitting on the table next to him and got sugar with the sugar spoon out of the sugar bowl on the Lazy Susan in the middle of the table.

Never did all of the sugar grains make it to the cup. Later when Grandma wiped off the table she’d think to herself, “He gets more and more like his dad every day.” She’d say it aloud if I was there, or some other close member of the family. Grandpa had already made coffee, maybe instant and he had already poured the half and half. He had already put in two spoons of sugar excepting the grains that had fallen off of the spoon between the Lazy Susan and the coffee cup. He had taken his spoon (not the sugar spoon… it went back on the Lazy Susan) and absently clank, clank, clanked it loudly for about thirty seconds or a minute to be certain that it was thoroughly mixed.

Grandpa had already done all of that today. That wasn’t what he was doing now. Now he was in the barn. Some times of the year he was feeding calves. Some times of the year he was feeding cows. (Yes there's a difference). Some times of the year he was getting supplies to take to the field. . Some times of the year he was throwing hay down to the truck to take to the back fields and feed. He might be doing any variety of things, but at this time of day, he was in the barn or near it.

If I ran after him I could walk with him for a bit while he did his chores. He was a short wiry man, with bow legs. He always wore overeralls unless he went to town. His gait was more of a short-stride lurch than a true walk. In about an hour he’d have a small pocket radio on Paul Harvey up to his ear. There was no use trying to talk to him while Paul Harvey was on. Right now Paul wasn’t on so when he saw me he’d happily exclaim, “It’s Suzy Q. Sizzle!... Hi, Kid!".I’d say, “Hi, Grandpa.” We’d smile great big at each other and he’d “pat” me on the back with three or four enthusiastic thuds.

I'd walk with him and he'd ask me how school was going or what I'd been doing. Maybe he'd let me help with something. Generally, though, it was easier for him to do it himself. He'd been doing everything himself for fourty years. Why change now?


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