My grandfather was an Appaloosa horse rancher in Ola, Idaho. Horses bred from his stud, Dark Warrior, were sold all over the country. Born in 1899 and a product of his generation, Grandpa didn’t talk much or show his feelings often. He worked hard, rode hard, and worshipped God. My mother was the eldest and the only daughter, followed by three sons.
Grandpa expected his children to work the ranch. Doing your part was expected. The third-born child (second-born son) didn’t like the ranch or the work. It happens. He left as soon as he could, rarely communicated, and was estranged the rest of their lives. It was much the same with his siblings. He seemed to resent them, according to Mom.
I heard about this uncle every now and then from Mom. He was in California and started his own church. He got married. He got divorced. He left California. As executrix of my grandparents’ estate, the next time Mom heard from him was when he accused her of cheating him out of his fair share. My mom was the type who would put a quarter or a dollar in with her children’s birthday presents if the total didn’t add up to the exact total of the other kids’ gifts. She was crushed that her brother would think that of her.
We heard he finally settled Boise in his later years. That was the last we heard until we read his death notice in late March.
Forgive the long intro, but I wanted to put in the backstory. 🙂
After Mom died, we were going through her things. We found a poem that Grandpa wrote about this wayward son. This rancher, this taciturn, stern man put down on paper what he couldn’t share with any of us. Hopefully, he was able to do so with Grandma. He died just shy of eight weeks after she did. He had no previous illness and was strong and agile for his age. The doctor said it was of a broken heart. Grandpa loved her so deeply that he couldn’t go on. Here is the poem.
by Edwin Antonio Gardner
Many years we’d been together
Just our little family tree
Kay and Bud and Marvin, Lary
And of course there’s Ma and me.
Come Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year
Made no difference what the day
We’d be eating, joking, hopin’
It could always be that way.
Christmas day in fifty three
Turkey’s cookin’ shoppin’s done
Presents wrapped, we are waitin’
But there’s one who wouldn’t come.
If he only knew the feelin’
Of the parents he forsook
Or by magic he could peek in
See their silent, vacant look.
Then at night when all is still
And outside there is a chill
Ma and I will think it through
Of what it was we didn’t do.
Ma will read a bit of Bible
And we’ll have a silent prayer
Then we’ll finally seek our rest
Thinking of the one out there.