02 November 2007

Spanning the Centuries

Yesterday would have been my grandfather's 108th birthday. He was born in 1899, in the 19th century.

Next week is our daughter's 4th birthday. She was born in 2003, in the 21st century.

I'm the fulcrum - born more-or-less midway through the 20th century with close relatives in each century surrounding. Of course, my mother can say the same - it's her father, and her granddaughter.

My grandfather was a sweet man. He was good with his hands - at drawing, building, fixing. He composted his leaves, but always called it humus. He smoked a pipe and watched baseball from his recliner. He ate his corn off the cob because he had false teeth. He didn't drive because he couldn't feel his feet - much later, it turned out that he'd had a benign brain tumor, probably for 20 or 30 years. He ate, or claimed to, peanut butter and sardines on rye - using the peanut butter to glue the sardines in place. He was a first generation American - born in Brooklyn to parents from the Frisian Islands. His surname is German but three of his four grandparents had Danish names. He loved CDB!

Owl, this is for you.

F U N-E X ?
S, I F X .
F U N-E M ?
S, I F M.
OK, I-L F M N X .

22 comments:

Suz said...

I don't know the birthdays of any of my grandparents. We weren't that close, really. Anyway, I think it's lovely that you do remeber your grandfather's birthday and care so much about him.

thirtysomething said...

I also don't know much about my grandparents, sadly enough, we aren't a close-knit family. I think it is great that you have such wonderful memories of him.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

What an interesting story. I'll be sure to keep his sandwich choice off my menu, though!

The Ex said...

Goodness! Its so hard to imagine being born not one but now two centuries ago. It's amazing.

Julie Pippert said...

What a cool story. I think people born at the turn of the last century had one of the most interesting views of major world changes and history. How neat to have that grandparent. Mine were younger, born in the early 20s.

And peanut butter and sardines! Is that a German thing? My dad's family did that too!

Julie
Using My Words

imaginary binky said...

Excellent memories of your grandfather! I think fondly of my grandfather, wishing he could get to know Amos and play the games with him that he played with me. Ah, to be a kid again.

niobe said...

I remember CDB fondly.

Beck said...

My grandmother always claimed to have known her great-great grandmother who died at a tremendously old age - 105 or something - in 1904. So she would have been born - IF this story was true, which it may well have not been - in the 1700s. CRAZY!
These remembered birthdays are bittersweet, aren't they?

mayberry said...

Yum. Ham and eggs. I loved CDB! too.

Now... off to google Frisian Islands.

wordgirl said...

My mom's dad was born in 1897. Even when I was little he seemed old to me.

dawn224 said...

I'm like this - I think of my grandparents on these days.

susan said...

I love CDB, too. And you have made me want to make eggs for breakfast, with veggie ham.

Omaha Mama said...

The pipe, the baseball. He sounds like my grandfather. Who would be only 89 if he were still alive. I hope my 4 year old cherishese her own grandfather the way I have both of mine.

Omaha Mama said...

p.s. - when I was little, I ate bologna and peanut butter (ewww) but no sardines!

Kelley said...

WOW! My grandfathers birthday was yesterday! He was 86. He is the most amazing man you will ever meet, got his 'second wind' the day after my second daughter was born 14 years ago and has been traveling the world!

Happy Birthday to fab grandfathers!

katiez said...

I never knew my grandparents, they were all dead before I was born. I've always thought how wonderful to have them - older people who love you but aren't your parents... all fun and no discipline (nice, rosy outlook I have, eh)
I do know about them, though, which is wonderful! One uncle wrote a book about his mother, and my mother has tons of photos and stories...

katiez said...

Forgot - Peanut butter and sardines????? Even using my very best imagination that is beyond me!!!!

painted maypole said...

love the idea of spanning the centuries

Julia said...

Happy belated to grandpa, who sounds like he was fun. And happy upcoming to the shorty, who I know is, by definition, fun.

nonlineargirl said...

I love CDB! My sister and I often say to one another I 8 6 X (appropos of what, I am not sure, but we do it).

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I love that book! It's the first book my son ever 'read.' He was unbelievably pleased with himself. It was like he finally understood why reading might be fun.

kathy a. said...

very late to the party, but my grandfather was born the same day, in 1904 [i think]. he also smoked pipes, or i assume he did, since he had a pipe rack and a collection. his parents emigrated from germany, but did not have a german surname; he had a twin and a number of siblings; and that is all i know. except he was a wonderful grandpa, only fond memories, but they are from long ago.