One of the best of the several remembrances I have of my grandfather is playing checkers with him on a small table he made. I’m not sure when he made it… but it was in our house for as long as I can remember… so it easily pre-dated my arrival in the world.
He made it square with a top a bit larger than a checkerboard. The table had a drawer in it where the checkers could be stored and since the legs were so long there was a square brace which resembled a shelf about a foot from the floor. The top had a nice border around it and in the center my grandfather had inlaid squares of two different colored woods… which served to be the playing surface for the checkers.
I even know when we played that particular game together. It was when I had the chicken pox in second grade. I remember the day vividly because it was on a rare Sunday morning… one… because of the chicken pox… I had to stay home from Sunday school.
My grandfather was raised and lived in an entirely different world and as such never learned to drive a car. So… my Dad went and got him and he took care of me while my parents went to church. It is one of the last remembrances I have of him. It is a good memory.
Not long after that Dad took him to the Altoona VA hospital where he struggled fatally with Parkinson’s. I’m not sure how long he was in the hospital… but I was 12 when he died. In those final years… my Dad only let me visit him once in his hospital room. Something about I was too young to be permitted to go any farther than the waiting room.
When Dad knew he only had a few hours to live he snuck me in to see him… which given my grandfather’s poor condition may not have been the best way for me to make a final memory of the man with whom I had played checkers four years before.
As I said my grandfather was a man from another time. A man’s man… who picked favorites… again… not necessarily the right thing to do in our eyes today. But the up-side of that… was that I was his favorite grandchild. So… when my cousins and I get together… the stories they tell about how Pop Blanchard treated them… don’t have happy endings.
All but my last memory of him was good. He was kind and loving to me and gave me a lot of precious mementos… things that were his… family heirlooms. He didn’t give me the table, though… he gave that to my parents.
I found it a number of years ago in my parent’s basement. I recognized it immediately… what was left of it. I guess my parents decided they didn’t have a use for it anymore. Unfortunately… dampness had been hard on it. The veneer on part of it was beyond hope and the rest of it was simply left to fall apart. So I took it completely apart… restored what I could… and rebuilt it.
When I consider what tools my grandfather had to make the items he made from wood… compared to what tools I have… I marvel at the quality of the items which were made by him. He was a great craftsman with wood.
It even looks like the checkers… I have… that went with the table… were hand-made of wood. I doubt they were made by him… as he would have told me if they were… in fact he was the kind of man who might have told me that he made them… even if he hadn’t. But since I don’t know one way or the other… for all I know maybe they were.
I think that checkers is a really good game to play with your grandfather. The rules are fairly simple and the game can be challenging. Okay it’s not all that challenging compared to what is available out there today… but it is challenging enough for me. But not for my sons…
Please come back tomorrow, Dear Ones, as the Preacher continues his game story. You won’t want to miss a single day. He’s taking us to the cross where the soldiers played games to while away the time they had to wait for the crucified to die.
With the Preacher,