I am stealing this title from my sister. When she was in the second grade she wrote a story about our grandpa and called it “A Funny Fella”. When he read it, it was the first time I’d ever seen him cry. The second time came four days before he died.
He was the second oldest in a family of 13, however, he was still the S.I.C. Or, in other words, the Sibling In Charge.
He did most of the cleaning, most of the care-taking, and earned most of the money for his family. His parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses and, among other things, they didn’t believe in working for a living.
Grandpa resented religion.
When he was 14, he went to work for a dairy farmer, milking all the cows and sent every penny he earned to his mother. The farmer gave him food to eat and a place to sleep.
Despite having to carry his family of 13 children on his 14-year-old shoulders, he always treated his parents with respect.
He married our grandma when he was 18 and went off to war when he was almost 19. He was a Sergeant, stationed in Germany, and was the second company into Auschwitz when the war was over.
He worked for Amaco for the rest of his life, had four children, and managed to save his way into a pretty nice retirement. He gave to the fire department, loved his grandchildren, and took very special care of his wife.
He didn’t respect anyone on welfare, wasn’t afraid to tell people exactly what he thought, had moments where he almost disowned members of his family, and he voted Democrat all of his life.
And…he lived on an acre and a half…and had Go-Carts. And Doon Buggies. And he loved Hank and Slim, could play the harmonica, and called me his “special girl”. (On account of me being the only grandchild with red hair.)
Needless to say, I was pretty enamored of him. Even though he had a German temper, which is MUCH scarier than an Irish one, he couldn’t scare me. His bark was always worse than his bite!
And when I was about seven, he gave me the first piece of advice that I carried into adulthood…
“Kara, don’t you drink beer just to throw it all up the next mornin’.”
And, I haven’t.