He shut his eyes. June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever with only the sense of it all left here in his head. Now, a whole autumn, a white winter, a cool and greening spring to figure sums and totals of summer past. And if he should forget, the dandelion wine stood in the cellar, numbered huge for each and every day. He would go there often, stare straight into the sun until he could stare no more, then close his eyes and consider the burned spots, the fleeting scars left dancing on his warm eyelids; arranging, rearranging each fire and reflection until the pattern was clear….
So thinking, he slept.
And, sleeping, put an end to Summer, 1928. – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Our landscaping skills are minimal. The lawn is mowed, but other than that, we aren’t very good with it. We live about a block off of a highway with an open lot between us and about 10 miles of open fields. Trying to fight the dandelions is a losing battle. There was only one year where we had a fighting chance. The summer my Husband’s Grandfather spent a couple of weeks with us. That man would go out in the yard and spend hours patiently digging around the base of the flowers and pulling them out by the dozens. We told him he didn’t have to do it, but it seemed to be a challenge from Nature to go out there and get rid of them.
I always liked dandelions. I have always been so intrigued by their tenacity to survive. They emerge from the green below us with a reflection of the sun above and when their life cycle is almost over, they reach out and send their seedlings out into the wind, into the world to survive and carry on their legacy. It’s a natural metaphor for our own lives.
We got the call at about 11:18 pm last night. Calls at that time of night are calls you don’t really want to answer. My Husband’s Grandpa, Mahlon Miller, went home to God last night. He was 96 years old. The past few years he had been living in Arizona. Will’s Aunt and her family lives there and the it was nice that they were able to enjoy his last years with them. Illinois winters apparently aren’t good on old bones as I’m beginning to notice myself even now.
I’m very glad we got to spend the time we did with him when he stayed with us a few times. My maternal Grandfather died before my parents were married and my paternal Grandpa died when I was a teenager, so it was nice to be able to enjoy spend time with him. He was an integral part of our wedding. He helped me pick out my wedding dress (you can see it in the about me section). He was so sweet. When I put on the dress, his peacock blue eyes lit up and that small, sweet smile crossed his lips. I knew this was the right one.
He always wanted to be doing something. When he came here, my Husband had someone to play with. We had a pool table and they both played. The topper we had for the table had an insert where one side was for ping pong and the other for “air” hockey. The evenings were spent playing any of those games, watching Wheel of Fortune and playing cards.
The days were spent in the shop where my Husband carries out the work of his Grandpa’s passion. Clocks. Wil, my Husband, used to tell me stories about Grandpa’s house. Legend has it that everywhere there was a spot on the wall, there was a clock. I can’t imagine!
When Grandpa downsized for the first time, Wil received a couple of clocks from him. One was a clock his Grandpa built. Wil said he watched him build the case. Grandpa was a plumber by trade, but it sounds like he was a jack of many trades. Grandpa didn’t really work on the movements, but liked to tinker with them. When we tried to get the clock Grandpa gave him worked on, we had a very difficult time finding someone to work on it. Wil decided if he was going to collect them, he needed to work on them.
There was born Willy’s Tick-Tock Clock Shop and later www.willygoodclocks.com. He sought out and found training and used his business background to develop a business plan. He left his position as a Nursing Home Administrator and began a clock repair business. A couple of years after he started the business, we built the other half of the workshop into a showroom to sell new clocks and he built the website. I still worked outside the home, but we did put my graphic arts skills to work developing our first signage.
Grandpa never got to see the final result before he moved to Arizona, but when he was here with us he was in the shop. Grandpa would watch Wil work, play solitaire and get our dog Friday in trouble. I know Wil loved that time with his Grandpa and will cherish those memories.
There is so much about Grandpa that could be told, but some of it, he kept to himself. He was a good husband, father, brother and friend. He was a plumber and landlord. He was also like many men of his age, a soldier. Again, like many other soldiers of World War II, he didn’t want to talk about his experiences very often or for very long. He was in the Navy on the smallest air craft carrier in the fleet. When I looked up his ship, the Talugi (I may have misspelled it), but the ship was a both Normandy and Iwo Jima. That ship saw many things and so did Grandpa, but we will never know much about that.
Arrangements have not been made as yet, but the coming together to celebrate a life long and well lived will be of mixed feelings. The good memories of Grandpa will live on as long as people that knew him are still here as well. Here at our house, one of his dandelion seeds took hold though my Husband and his clock business. Seasons pass and time goes on, but we still continue through those we love in one way or another.
God’s speed Grandpa.