It was a good time of life. Granddaddy lived on one of the biggest farms in the county. He lived in a big house and loved driving Grandma around in his big car. It had lots of chrome and whitewall tires. It was rumored that he also ran moonshine with his brothers and sons. Granddaddy was a well-respected man who always reached out to help others. He was Irish and a striking man. He had red hair and penetrating blue eyes. He was originally from Virginia and was a strong but mannerly man. My Grandma fell in love with him at first sight. She was smitten.
Granddaddy courted her hard. She was from Vermont, not a country girl but a small town girl. Grandma was part English and part Native American. She wore her hair down to her waist until she passed at eighty-three. Granddaddy bought her nice clothing and rode her around town in his fancy car. He was so proud to have her by his side. It was a time of life when things were good.
They got married at a little white church where his brother was the pastor. Grandma wore a white sundress and a summer straw hat. She was a short lady with a brilliant smile and a quiet demeanor. She loved to ride horses and read westerns and romance novels. Granddaddy carried her over the threshold. It was a time when things were good and they shared a love without end. For her wedding present, he bought her a knickknack cabinet filled with small glass birds and horses. It was something she would cherish her whole life. It was the best of times for them.
They sat in the front pew at church and Granddaddy had a pleasing tenor voice and loved to sing I’ll Fly Away. They held hands and hosted elaborate dinners for the family, and they drove around his land holdings on Sunday afternoons handing out cash and hams to his tenants. Over the years they had seven boys and one girl. It was a dynasty of sorts. Granddaddy purchased more land and as the boys grew older he gave them all a farm to tend. It was a time filled with hopes and dreams.
The family had a vast amount of farmable acreage and the money was rolling in. All the boys had 56 Chevys and you could always find them with the hood up tinkering with the motor. Even though I was only five years old I knew that they were up to something other than farming to drive cars built for speed. I couldn’t figure out why we lived in a tenant shack yet drove a car like that. I loved to ride in that car when Daddy would drive fast. It was a time when life was exciting.
Granddaddy was getting older and I could hear rumors that he was in a hospital in Columbia. I didn’t really remember him as I was just a baby and no one would talk about him even when I persisted. I could hear my uncles and Daddy talk about him being sick and had sold his farm to one of his brothers. Grandma was living in a small tenant house with her daughter and was sharecropping the acreage out for income. Everyone was hard pressed for money as Granddaddy’s farm had kept the whole family in cash. The sons did what they could to feed their families including running a little moonshine. It was a sad time in life; a dynasty of despair.
I never saw Granddaddy again and the family never talked about him. Daddy went to see him when I was around six and Daddy never was the same. It was the only time I saw my Daddy cry. In time I forgot Granddaddy and bit by bit the farms were sold off and the whole family moved to Myrtle Beach. When my Daddy passed away I saw a grave a ways down from where they laid Daddy to rest. I noticed the grave had the name of my Granddaddy.
Point Of View
I found out much later in life that my Granddaddy had developed Alzheimer’s and had sold his land to his brother. It broke the family. They didn’t know what it was back then and there were no support groups to provide help. In the end, his children did well in life but most of the sons left the farm broke. It was a time where the darkness and despair ruled everyone’s life.
In life, we may reach high, drive big cars and own land. You can have a dynasty yet in the blink of an eye it can vanish like the morning mist. My Granddaddy lived hard and was somewhat of an outlaw. Without question, he loved his family, yet Alzheimer’s took away everything. He passed away in a primitive place alone and forgotten. Sadly, there is no one left that can tell me about my Granddaddy. We should remember to love the ones we have with us now. We should live each day as if it is the last day. It should be a time in life where things are good and we love the ones in our life that are family. We should love more, laugh more and cherish the time we have now. These times are the best of times.