Monday, July 10, 2006

A birthday for Esther Clara's husband

July 11 is my maternal grandfather's birthday. Herb Ford was born in 1892 and died in 1981 and let no grass grow under his feet at any point in between. Shown here with his great-grandson Kevin, Grandpa's face reflects his mischievous and playful side. Grandma often said he had a streak of mischief in him a mile wide. He liked to gently tease and play with his grandchildren and great grandchildren, making up for lost opportunities and the years of hard work that occupied his time and energy when his own kids were small.

Grandpa was 50 years old when I was born, no longer young, but youthful. Until his death he was the dominant male figure in my life. His philosophy of life influenced my personality and behaviors from birth through young adulthood. His own life had been one of hard work and struggle. Such a life is all he'd ever known. But he enjoyed the small happinesses of life with a childlike optimism. He looked forward to Grandma's fried chicken on Sunday with as much anticipation as he did Christmas. Ice cream and cake on his birthday was a major event. His dreams and needs were simple ones, easily fulfilled and always accepted with twinkling eyes.

The day before Grandpa died, Grandma baked one of his favorite treats -- Bulgur wheat bread. He waited patiently, as usual, for the first loaf to come out of the oven so he could lather a thick warm chunk of fresh bread with butter. Late that afternoon before suppertime, he delivered a loaf of Bulgur bread to my door, all smiles, saying he'd already "tried it on for size and it was some of Grandma's best yet." The next day after breakfast, unexpectedly, he was gone.

Now I don't mean this post to be pitiful in any way. Grandpa got his wish for old age and its inevitable date with death. He still got around on his own two legs, still enjoyed his eats with gusto, and did not have to linger in a nursing home. He exited life happy and content, with a tummy full of Grandma's delicious Bulgur bread.

If he happens to be hanging around in the invisible realm, I just want to say, "Happy Birthday, Grandpa!"


Josh said...

I have this vague memory of Grandpa Ford chasing me around with some toy wind-up chattering teeth. I had to be only three or four years old when he did that. It's the only memory I have of him since I was so young when he died.
I think about it sometimes and wonder why I remember that.

Mitts said...

This is the very best picture of Gpa ever taken..he was so thrilled to hold Kevin any old time.I miss those was a major event and an honor to attend his many bday celebrations.Life has never been the same without him.Thanks for the memories in picture and verse,

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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