Is This Where I Get It From?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.
Granddaddy hasn’t been around as much in the past 8 or 9 months, but I figure he’s needed elsewhere or maybe he’s simply coming to me in different ways. It’s now been 11 years since he passed, and one of the things I learned from him last year was that the Dead can be in more than one place at a time because time and space are different in that dimension.
Still, he’s been on my mind for the past few days.
He was an Aquarius and in so many respects, a classic Aquarius. Always full of ideas, very entrepreneurial. As a child, I was always fascinated that he had some new plant or vegetable to grow on his farm and sell. His picture was in the local newspapers several times a year for having some ungodly huge cantaloupe or rutabaga that must have been a world record. He seemed to have all kinds of ideas to bring in streams of income, though he was careful with his spending, and even in his late 80’s, it wasn’t uncommon for him to carry $1000 in bills in his wallet when he went to town because that was the generation he lived in. He cleaned up quite nicely for church, but no one would ever have confused him with one of the country club set in town.
Tonight, two things are on my mind in regards to Granddaddy.
First, he spent his entire life waiting to see Haley’s Comet a second time, often talking about how he hoped to live that long. He saw it at the age of 5, in 1910, when it had been a magnificent view in the southern country- side. Then, 76 years later, he finally got his wish to see it a second time, at the age of 81. Unfortunately, the 1986 view of the comet is said to be the worst in 2000 years. I distinctly remember his disappointment. I’m not sure he understood that the view had indeed been fabulous the first time and not that he was just remembering it that way. But I do believe he was more excited through his lifetime about seeing the comet again than he was about airplanes, computers, men on the moon, or any of the gigantic steps our culture leapt forward in the century he lived.
The other thing on my mind is something that I’m not sure he ever knew that any of us knew about. In the years following my grandmother’s death in 1969, he al- ways seemed to have plenty of “lady friends” and could be quite the dapper old man. He was lonely, he said once, and confided in me that he never would have re- married if he’d known he’d have so much family close by in his last years. But then, he outlived his second wife, too.
There was a side of him I caught a glimpse of through the local gossips. They meant it as a put-down, but to me, it stirred a deep appreciation for something I don’t think I’ve seen, ever, in any other flesh-and-blood man.
According to the story, Granddaddy, then in his 70’s, was “courting” about town. One “widow-woman” he had his eye on was quite the high society bitch, in that way that can happen only in a very small, very Southern town. She was one of the bridge-playing socialites in town, and with great disdain and an upturned nose, she passed along the story to her friends in town, including a high-society relative of ours, who passed it along to my mother.
Granddaddy had taken a liking to this woman, who was quite beautiful in her 70’s, and he was trying to get her attention. One Sunday afternoon, he stopped by her house to visit, true to their generation’s style of courting and socializing. Here, the story diverges. One says that she was home and rendered her decision on the spot. The other says that she wasn’t there, found his gift, and rendered her decision to any gossip in town who would listen.
But in either case, he showed up at her doorstep with a little basket of flowers. According to the woman, Granddaddy hadn’t brought her expensive store-bought flowers or had them delivered by the florist. Oh, no. None of that!
No, he’d picked some wildflowers and left a little bouquet for her.
Yes, common wildflowers. Probably from the roadside. Certainly not good enough for her! Why, who did he think he was?!
Offhand, I say he was a romantic.