was recently given an old hat my grandfather wore when fishing. It's
not the one I remember him wearing, but I'm glad to have it. I also
have his pocket knife, and a bible. The pocket knife especially is
important to me, as it's one he probably took while we went fishing.
I remember him teaching me (very patiently) to tie a fishing knot, how
to cast, how to tell one fish from another, and how to clean the fish. I
don't remember a lot of what he actually taught me, but I remember him
patiently teaching me. Taking the time to help dissect the fish,
explain why the fish's heart was still beating after we were done, and
walking along the shore as I tried in vane to catch a fish with my hands
when they weren't biting.
I also remember him teaching me
about electricity - about positive and return wires, and how ground
worked, and about radio waves. Again - a lot of it was lost on someone
as young as I was, but I remember how cool it was to be learning,
and I remember him teaching me. I saw the greenboard and soldering
iron he used to build his radio boards, and sat through the explanation
on how transistors worked, why they were different than tubes, and how
the color coding worked. He had a 40 foot radio tower in the back yard
and he talked to people all over the world - it was facebook back when
you had to be hardcore to use it.
I also remember him patiently
explaining all of his medals to me time and again, every time I asked.
I don't remember what they were, but I remember him telling me. I also
remember the shrapnel he had pinned to the same board that had almost
killed him, from a blast that killed some of his friends and bunkmates.
He was a war hero, but he kept that, carefully mounted and framed,
buried in the bottom right hand drawer of an old desk in his radio room.
The first thing in my life I remember taking apart and fixing
for a reason other than curiosity was a doorknob. My Grandmother asked
me to look at it because my Grandfather had been working on it all day
and it was still broke. I took it apart and fixed it - my Grandfather
was stunned, and seemed very proud of me. I was too young to know what
alzheimer's disease was, but it was stealing him from me before I knew
how much he meant to me.
I will number the hat, the knife, and
the bible among my small treasures more important to me than just
things. And they will be passed to my children with all the knowledge I
can provide about the Great Grandfather who taught me to fish,
patiently answered questions, and read to me whenever I asked.
I miss my Grandfather. I wish I'd realized who he was when I had the chance.