Grandaddy quit school at 13 to work on his family's farm; at 18 he
came here from Ireland and worked hard in construction. Grandaddy worked
hard at everything he did and used to say he could do what he damn well
pleased, because he worked so hard. He raised his sons and daughters in a
house he built himself; Grandaddy found a certain
satisfaction from working with his hands.
Back then, the house Grandaddy built was in the country. There
were dogs and cats and chickens everywhere and he preferred his animals to most
people. He was partial to his dogs and they were my favorite too—-at one time it was fun to go see
Grandaddy ate bacon and
eggs for breakfast every morning, and until the day he died, every morning
after breakfast he smoked a big cigar. Grandaddy was handsome like a matinee
idol, his face was Irish-white but his arms and hands were golden brown from
working in the sun. Grandaddy was a man who enjoyed working with his hands.
I never knew my grandmother. Grandaddy married her when they
were very young, they had 10 children in about as many years. My
grandmother died not long after giving birth to her last child, and because he
had 10 kids, Grandaddy soon re-married. But he slept in a big big bed, alone
except for the dogs he was partial to, and not with his new wife.
Grandaddy smoked cigars and
worked hard all his life, he drank whiskey in his coffee and did what he damn
well pleased. Grandaddy liked to set me on his lap and say I was the
spitting image of my grandmother, in breath that stunk of whiskeyed coffee and
cigars. And alone in his big big bed except
for the dogs he was partial to, and me, he found a certain satisfaction from
working with his hands-—at one time it was fun to go see Grandaddy.