Monday, December 14, 2020

John Caughey, Part Two

    Last post, I introduced you to one of my enduring heroes, my maternal stonemason grandfather John. (My late Dad Erol is another.)

    Gramp John and I used to exchange letters and postcards, frequently kidding each other about this or that. I think his unquenchable sense of humor was an ingredient in the secret recipe that kept him on Earth, thriving and contributing, for one hundred and three years. One of his woodland paintings he did in his later years depicted a dog chasing a cat chasing a mouse scooting for cover as a hawk looked on. The title was, “Life. Just one damned thing after another.”

    Somehow, we got onto the subject of horoscopes, poking fun at each other’s celestial signs. Claiming he could read my scope as well as any astrologer out there, he sent me the following week’s worth of astrological advice:

MONDAY: Avoid get-rich-quick schemes today, icy streets, and close friends.

TUESDAY: Be glad you’re you. Everybody else certainly is. On that other matter, just stick to your story and stop worrying.

WEDNESDAY: You will be followed today. Wear a disguise.

THURSDAY: You will receive a compliment. It will be a lie.

FRIDAY: You have your shirt on backwards. Slow down.

SATURDAY: You will receive a warning by mail today. Pay up.

SUNDAY: You should, but you won’t.

    The ironic part about this reading of my personal stars was its flavor of accuracy.

    We also exchanged serious notes. One day after a freezing rainstorm he took his customary walk through the woods, dressed as usual, I’m sure, in shirt and tie, vested suit coat and Stetson felt hat. (In old photos of the Wright Brothers testing their planes, they were similarly dressed; it’s what people did then.) That day he sent me a postcard that said, “Old as I am, Mother Nature still has the power to amaze and delight me. Last night she decorated the trees with billions of ice diamonds.”

    The old man himself never lost the power to amaze and delight this lucky grandson of his. Were it not for him, I wouldn’t even be here. Were it not for him, I would not carry much of his beneficial philosophy and example throughout my life. He has influenced my writing and even appeared as a character. An elderly couple, Hank and Hattie Gaskill, prominent in my suspense novel series, were drawn largely from Gramp John and his pleasant wife, Hattie.

     He touched thousands of others for the better over his more than ten decades, and those thousands have in turn touched still others with some of his enduring work ethic, good humor, and wisdom.

     And now he’s touched you a bit, as well.

     Author Albert Pine said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”


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