It’s weird. I don’t remember much about my grandfather Raymond. He was my mother’s father. I can’t remember him speaking a word to me; however, I know he had to. I keep looking for words of wisdom from him, or something that would tie me to him and make me think of him fondly, but there isn’t anything really. Now don’t get the assumption that I wasn’t fond of him, or that he wasn’t a good man, because he was. I just can’t remember any conversations between my grandfather and me. I do not think of him in a bad light by any means, it’s just I remember no interaction with him or no special stories involving himself and me. I’m sure my other sisters remember things about him that are heart-warming, but I can remember none.
However, I do remember my grandfather in the terms of calling my grandmother daily, and hanging out at “The corner” (a local beer joint) and kissing my grandmother religiously. I remember being moved at the sight of him sobbing when my grandmother and my uncle Charles passed, but that is honestly about it. There has to be a lot said about a husband who is that devoted to his wife.
His appearance was short and round. I can’t say he was fat, but if I had to describe him in a word, it would be round. I remember his clothes were always neat in appearance. He had a huge mole on one of his cheeks, and I often wondered about that mole. I had weird, kid thoughts, such as, “did it hurt”, “was it ever going to fall off” or “did he shave it.” Like I said, weird.
My grandfather smoked – or did he? He lit cigarettes anyway, and they just dangled from his mouth. Sometimes I would just want to flick the ashes off, because almost the whole cigarette would burn before he would take it out of his moth and flick the ashes. I’m not sure if he actually ever puffed on a cigarette.
What I’ve been told about my grandfather is that he was a chef. I know he worked at a local distillery as a chef and I’ve seen pictures. I’ve also been told that before the great depression he owned a candy store. I often thought growing up, “darn the bad luck why we couldn’t have a candy store to play around in.”
I was also told my grandfather also did a bang-up job decorating cakes.
Back in those days, women did the cleaning, cooking, laundry and took care of their husbands. It’s just the way it was. I was almost embarrassed that my grandfather was a chef of all things, and could decorate cakes. That was women’s work. It was my mindset as I was growing up, but today I am quite proud to say my grandfather was a chef. When I speak of my grandfather, I speak of him in terms of his cooking abilities and his candy store.
When I was older (late teens) my grandfather was visiting my sister Dorothy Ann. The family was gathered at Dorothy Ann’s house for some reason that does not come to my mind. What I remember about that day is, my grandfather took a bed sheet, placed it over his head, then put a laundry basket on top of the sheet and started chasing the kids around the backyard. I’m not sure who the kids were, but if I had to guess it would be my nieces and nephews David, Jeannette and Karen. But in my mind this action of my grandfather seemed to be very much out of character. I was a teenager. Everything adults did was out of character.
In his final years, all I recall is grandpa being at my aunt Mary Jeans. She took care of him as he lay dying. I visited him several times, but don’t remember an exchange of words at all. I was in my twenties when he passed, but I don’t remember much about his funeral, being sad or the sadness of my family. It is really troublesome that I remember no conversations with my grandfather. I want so to remember something about him, his personality or demeanor but, for me, it is just not there.
Most of all, I cannot remember his shoes.