Grandpa Henry was my hero. He taught me to hunt, fish, and to live life with a peaceful, simple perspective. I dedicated my first book on fatherhood to him and still think of him regularly, despite the fact that he’s been gone many, many years.
When World War I broke out, he was a hard-working farm boy from Northern Michigan. Like all red-blooded Americans, Grandpa signed up to fight against evil in a far away country. After the perilous ocean passage, he fought in many of the major battles, lived in rat-infested trenches, watched men die, and barely survived the deadly gas attacks so prevalent in that war. Grandpa’s battle-scared face and the jagged piece of German shrapnel that remained buried in his left leg were reminders of just how close he came to being buried “over there.” Had that happened, he would not have married; or had three children, one that died at age 5, and he would not have had his son, Robert, who became my own dad.
Years later, I was blessed to spend some glorious days at Grandpa’s side on his little farm. His many scars caused others to stare, but I found him to be the handsomest man alive. Together we fished the streams and hiked the woods until the sun would set and we’d return home for farm-sized dinners and peaceful sleep.
Grandpa’s wife, Eva, was very tough and at times, she mistook her husband’s gentle spirit and quiet tone for weakness. Whenever she’d raise her voice and demand her way, this battered warrior would give in, often with a smile. He loved her more than she understood and this was his way of honoring his wife. Inside I knew that since Grandpa had faced hordes of men bent on killing him, the little 90 pound dynamo only thought she ran the show. This peace-loving man had had enough of war and never again wanted to fight unless he had to, especially over little things. As I reached my teen years, I noticed that Grandpa was slowing down. Something wasn’t quite right, but he never let on to Grandma that anything was wrong.
[Read the rest of the article at Brian D. Molitor’s blog.]