My grandpa passed away on January 12th. He would have been 96 yesterday. One summer, he played this song for me (Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called), in between some Tennessee Ernie Ford and country classics, while he drove me through my family’s hometown of Monticello, Indiana.
Always up for hard candy, a snort of brandy, some KFC, and a laugh, Papa John – or Mick, as they called him at work – had a tough childhood, orphaned as a teenager. Leading a mule cart at the limestone quarry, delivering papers, laying railroad track in the CCC, becoming foreman at the RCA TV cabinetry shop – crafting products that were truly Made in the USA. His forearms had the girth of my legs. We had great times shooting baskets out by the barn, sitting on the porch swing, going to Dairy Queen. The man would eat raw onions from his vegetable patch.
He wasn’t perfect, and those closest to him knew him best, I know. But I only received love and generosity from him, much undeservedly, especially in his last years. May he rest in peace.