My Grandfather was a giant. He towers over me in all my memories of him, a happy and comforting presence, always ready for grandkids to join him on his rocking chair.
My Grandpa made a wagon to hook up behind the ride-on lawnmower, so he could tow us grandchildren around town. The prime spot was, of course, on his lap up front, but with the trailer, he didn’t have to make as many runs.
He loved to build things – the entire garage was devoted to woodworking. He built cabinets and bins, boxes, step-stools, tables, and the Hobbit House. Well… Hobby House is what I believe it was actually called. A tiny house with two benches facing each other inside, and handy bench-backs for us grandkids to use to hoist ourselves up on the roof (clearly the prime seating area). Apart from that one time my cousin pulled the chimney off while trying to hoist himself up – landing square on his back on the ground with a brick of wood on his chest - and a few splinters, it was a relatively safe pastime.
He built a number of cabinets, bins, step-stools and tables over the years, most of which have been scattered amongst the children and grandchildren. He wasn’t very interested in the planning stages – he tended to eyeball once, cut twice – but everything is sturdy and built with love. When my mom asked him to make a butcher’s block for them – they had brought him a large piece of oak and the metal cow’s head-and-tail shapes for either end – he very carefully pared the oak down nearly half its size, forming a cow-body and legs to go between the metal pieces.
My Grandpa’s favourite colour was orange. Orange like rust, or a pumpkin, or a construction cone - the really stand-out kinds of orange. The Hobbit House was pumpkin orange until years after he passed. I guess my Grandma had come to terms with all the garishly orange things in her house by that time. That and the life-sized porcelain leopard he set proudly next to his chair in the living room. I suppose it was less irritating to her than the way he would pop his dentures out over his lips to entertain the grandkids. At the dinner table.
He cared for all the feral cats in the area, though we couldn’t have them inside because my Aunt L is so allergic she swells up when the wind blows from the direction of the horse farm across town. His constant companion among them, though, was a tough old orange tomcat, whose highly original name was “Tom”. When Tom got cut up from a fight, my grandpa would tend his wounds. His ears were like swiss cheese, and at one point, he lost an eye, but he never failed to show up and sit with my Grandpa on the porch in the evening.
My grandpa gave me a love of do-it-yourself projects, rock collecting, rocking chairs, dark licorice, and the colour orange. He also gave me one of the many step-stools he made, and his billy boots fit me great – so he might not have been an actual giant
Is it really any surprise that my dog is orange too?