It has been nearly a decade since my husband held his father’s hand for the last time. His father was an old Mainer set in his ways. “You need a haircut!” were words for every boy and man whether he knew them or not. His thoughts no matter what they were would spill into the air. He was opinionated and stubborn, yet there was a soft side to this burly brisk man.
As soon as the children poured out of the car at camp, he scooped them into his arms and found a place to sit. With food. One of his favorite places to sit was on the porch at camp. His chair an old green plastic one was set at the head of the table. The table and chair situated just so to watch the comings and goings on the pond, affording a long view of water leading to the mountains. With a child or sometimes two settled onto his lap, he sipped water while scooping ice cream or pudding into gaping mouths. The grand babies were assuredly sustained by love, food and camp. Later, the children would line up to be flung into the air by his strong arms, little legs dangling, dragging to and fro through the cool water. The air pierced with squeals of delight beckoning a turn, “Grampy! Grampy!” On some days, the older grandchildren accompanied Grampy down the end of the pond taking turns with the oars. The orange life jacket hiked up beyond their oversized ears. The boat trip often included releasing grumpy, loud bull frogs down to the far end of the pond so there could be some sleep from dusk and into the dawn,at least for one night.
When not by the water or chopping wood, Grampy would sit in his green chair at the grey formica table to sip coffee, whoop Grammy at Yahtzee and eat green pimento olives straight from the jar with a tiny delicate fork.
Even after all these years since he left this world, the table and chair remain. I rub my hand on the surface of the table where he sat. The finish worn and scratched. I feel a lifetime etched into this place, telling of a man who has created a legacy of traditions for generations to come.