Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

Can You Hear Us?

April 18, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Do you know how we wonder where you are?
When Mom blames you, do you deny everything?
Are you with me when I listen to Marty Robbins in my car?
Did you read the poems we wrote for you?
Are you aware of our problems, of our triumphs?
Did you know Kristi got a 100 on that test?
Can you see Debi when she teaches her class?
Are you proud of Scott’s grades?
Do you still laugh and mutter “ugly dog”?
Can you see our faces when we gaze at the stars?
Do you think I look like you?
Do you step into our dreams at will?
Were you really coaching me when I was looking for the dipstick?
Do you like the way I cleaned up the basement?
Are you happy your body was buried at sea?
Do you know what your grandchildren will look like?
Are you a star or a little bird now?
Do you smile when we sit around telling stories?
Do you think I solve my problems okay?
Can you read over my shoulder when I write?
Do you know your grandchildren’s names?
Do you know how Trevor’s doing?
What does God look like?
Is He a nice guy?
Do you get to visit Colorado?
Did you sit with Mom and see me graduate?
Do you see Grandpa, Grandma and Joanne often?
Can you see the ladies that Kelli and Kari have become?
Are you proud of your children?
Do you know how we miss you?
Can you hear us?
written by t. michael pender  4/1/89
©1989 T. Michael Pender.  All rights reserved.

World’s Greatest Grandfather

July 15, 2010

by Thomas M. Pender

I’m sure there are millions of people who believe they have or had the greatest grandfather ever.  Sadly, they’re all wrong.  There were only five grandchildren who had the privilege to know Claude McKinnon in this magical capacity.  However, as a consolation, I’ll share with you what you missed:

“Grandpa Mac” (as we called him from our earliest days, since “McKinnon” was a bit of a vocal hurdle for little ones) was a true gentleman.  He wore fedoras and straw hats, along with bolo ties, bowties and neckties.  He never swore in front of ladies or children, and bristled at anyone who did.  While I was at a tender age, he directed a neighbor and friend to leave his house immediately when the man swore in my presence.  (However, many years after Grandpa Mac passed, I did learn from my uncle that “he could really use J.C. and the boys” when he was working!)

A mason by trade, Grandpa Mac was responsible for a great many stone fireplaces in Waterford, Michigan and the surrounding areas.  He not only built the fireplace in his own house, but the house itself, as well.  He was an untrained teacher, musician, artist and poet who excelled at all of these endeavors.  A walking fountain of knowledge, my grandfather shared all he knew with any who would listen.  He loved to teach, and was a Boy Scout leader and Sunday school teacher for decades.  He played the ukulele and the saw, and the first songs I recall learning were sung with my big sister at Grandpa Mac’s knee.  Every year at Christmastime, we would gather at Grandpa and Grandma Mac’s house.  The fire would be going strong as we sang carols, accompanied by his saw.  The smell of Ivory soap still reminds me of him, as he used to carve Christian crosses, open Bibles, and praying hands into the bars.  The only poem of his that I’m aware of was one he wrote just a few days after my birth.  At that time, Debi and I were his only grandchildren, but he anticipated more, and wrote down his feelings for us all.  I still have a framed copy of this poem, and hopefully one day, one of my boys will display it in his home.

A fantastic entertainer of children, Grandpa Mac would get us giggling with such simple tricks as loosening his bottom plate and “chattering” his teeth.  Long before I understood the negative side of smoking, I loved to watch him roll his own cigarettes in the fashion of the cowboys.  I was convinced that this man knew everything, as I don’t recall a question he couldn’t answer.

He passed in 1978 at the age of 69.  I had attended my Grandpa Pender’s funeral the previous year, but after much thought, I chose not to attend Grandpa Mac’s.  While I wanted to be there to show respect, I also wanted to remember him as he was to me, and that instinct won out.  In the years that followed, I spotted him in a few dreams, and I figured he was looking in on me.

His children, his children’s children, and now his children’s grandchildren are all warm, intelligent people who love to laugh.  In this sense, he is still among us.  I also have a devious plan to return to Waterford one day and transport the fireplace from his old house to my as-yet-nonexistent home!

If you’ve never witnessed the playing of a common handsaw as a musical instrument, you’re missing out on a unique kind of music.  The only song I know by name where the saw is prominent is Sarah McLachlan’s “The Last Dance,” and I recommend you check that song out.  The high-pitched “wavy” sound you hear with the piano is the sound of a bent saw blade being played with a violin bow.