Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembering Gran'pa Coons

Remembering Gran’pa Coons
October 18, 2003
I have been thinking about my grandfather.  There are some things that I remember and there are some things that I know about my grandfather.  My memories of my gran’pa are few.  He was in his nineties when I was born, so I remember him as a frail old man who had big gaps in his memory.
What I know of him paints a different picture that is hard for me to visualize.  Trying to picture him as tall, lean and muscular is difficult.  I know he was these things, because he had to be. 
He made part of his living digging wells.  This was before big drilling machines.  This was in the day when they were dug with muscle and sweat.  He was what was known as a well witch or water diviner.
I remember that he showed me how to cut a forked branch from a sapling to use as a divining rod.  He held it in an overhand grasp and then walked with it in front of him. When the end dipped of its own accord this is where there was water.  He could tell by the pull of the rod how deep the well would be.
I’m not sure that I believe in diving for water, but I’ve held it in my hands and felt the pull for myself.
They other thing that he did was fiddle for dances.  All of my grandfather’s relatives played various musical instruments.  These are things I’ve been told by my mother.
These things I remember: I remember gran’pa sitting at the table just staring and not saying a word.  This was his way of letting us know that we needed to pass something to him.  I remember him eating peas with his knife and saucering his coffee for it to cool. 
I recall his mustache.  I’m, at the time of this writing, fifty-six years old and I still envy that mustache.  It was a glorious, bushy thing that completely covered his lower lip. 
I can still see him sitting in his easy chair with his feet propped up in the open door of the oil burner.  The oil burning stove sat in the living room and was the only heat for the two story house.  Gran’pa would sit there and go to sleep with his eyes open.  That both fascinated and scared me.  Once he’d gone to sleep, his pipe would fall out onto his chest.  I think every shirt he owned had burn holes in it.
He had holes in more than his clothes.  He also had holes in his memory.  He knew I was his grandson, but he didn’t recognize my mother as his daughter.  He always called her “that woman”.  I remember how much that hurt her.

I have created a new blog to showcase stories, such as this one.  The new blog is "Stories By Thomas E. Williams.  From this post forward the current blog will be used only to post sermons and has been re-titled to "Sermons By Thomas E. Williams"

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