To this day, the smell of sawdust or wood takes me back to the small cabinet making shop where he spent most of his days. As a child I loved to pretend I was making something with the scrap wood he let me nail together in odd creations that were totally my own. We worked and whistled, hammered and measured with little or no conversation. Yet I was perfectly content just to be in my grandfather’s presence.
After my grandmother died, he did his own cooking. Strange things like nothing but a pan of fried sweet potatoes for supper or a handful of Fig Newtons with a glass of milk for lunch. But I had whatever he was having and thought it was grand!
I even liked his smell. Neither pleasant nor unpleasant, it was just the smell of HIM. A combination of wood, flannel, the outdoors and a bit of sweat. That smell translated for me into feelings of both security and adventure, of identity and intrigue. I felt that we were more than just grandfather and granddaughter. We were pals.
Charlie Langston was a hearty man who cracked nuts with his teeth, walked two miles every day (even in his nineties) and whose body frame refused to bend or slump with gravity and time. He was smart and funny and although much of my childhood was spent hundreds of miles away from him, the time we did spend together helped form who I became.
Charlie Langston was a hearty man who cracked nuts with his teeth, walked two miles every day (even in his nineties) and whose body frame refused to bend or slump with gravity and time.
On my recent trip to Spain, my friend, Pam Wold, and I were visiting late one night with her daughter, Lindsey. We were on the subject of men and I told them I had always been very comfortable around men, mostly I believe because of the great relationship I had with my own dad and with my Grandpa Charlie. They both had been easy to talk with, made me feel significant and readily accepted me into their world.
I realize now that as a female, being validated by the primary men in my life was key not only to how I felt about myself but to how I felt about and around men in general.
When our older son was turning thirteen I joined him, my husband and five other men for a ten day fly in fishing trip to a remote spot up in Canada. For a week and a half, I slept in the bunkhouse, pulled my jeans and cap on in the morning and fished for wall eye and pike with the rest of them eight and ten hours a day. At night we played cards, took turns doing kitchen duty and grabbed for the flashlight when we needed to make a trip to the outhouse. I loved every minute of “being one of the guys” and never once felt uncomfortable or ill at ease. I would imagine that in part I have Charlie to thank for that.
I loved every minute of “being one of the guys” and never once felt uncomfortable or ill at ease. I would imagine that in part I have Charlie to thank for that.
Our grandson, Owen, simply idolizes my husband. The two of them have already established a close and special bond. David is a huge outdoorsman and an avid hunter. At six feet four inches he is pretty much the equivalent of a superhero in the eyes of a small boy.
Six-year-old Owen has already shot his first dove, duck and deer, all memories he will forever connect to his grandfather and the time they have shared. He would gladly hunt or fish all day but is just as happy riding “shotgun” in his camo booster seat in PawPaw’s pickup truck.
Owen has an intense longing to identify with this male two generations removed. In fact he recently announced to me, “I think I’m more related to PawPaw than I am to my dad.” I laughed and told him that just because you shared the same interests as someone and liked being with them doesn’t make you more related to them. But, of course, I appreciated his sentiment.
I love that David is providing for our grandson the same sense of acceptance, adventure and alliance my Grandpa Charlie provided for me.
Genesis 48 and 49 record the end of the life of Jacob, the patriarch who became known as Israel. When Jacob’s son, Joseph, hears that his father is ill and dying he comes to visit him, bringing with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. When Jacob sees the boys he requests “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” (48:9) Not only does Jacob pronounce a blessing upon his own sons, but upon these two grandsons as well.
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”
In this blessing, Grandfather Jacob not only imparts a sense of history and heritage, but also implies greatness and success in his grandsons’ futures. Isn’t that what a good grandparent does? Give them roots and give them wings.
To those who realize that because “children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6), they themselves have become kings.
My blog post this week is a salute to all the grandfathers taking time to spend with their grandchildren. To those who are making meaningful deposits in the memory bank of a boy or girl. To those who by their speech, their involvement or just their countenance are declaring a child’s worth. To those who realize that because “children’s children are a crown to the aged” (Proverbs 17:6), they themselves have become kings.
I bless you. I honor you. I recognize the important role you play.
Thank you and Happy Father’s Day to you.