A Grandson's Ramblings

When Grandpa Didn't Say A Word

by Mike Peters

If my grandfather, Obert O. Coleman, were still alive, we would be celebrating his 97th birthday on this Monday, the 2nd of July. Grandpa was a quiet man, a fair man and a compassionate man. He was a man who would never back down from a conflict as long as he thought the cause was right.  The following is my attempt at a rhyming dedication:
Grandpa didn't say much
But when he did nobody stirred
'Cause he said more than most folk
When he didn't say a word

He hammered for a living
Raised some cattle, crops and kids
Each grew beyond expectations
You expected such for what Grandpa did

He drank his coffee from a saucer
His whiskey from a flask hidden in his hand
He smoked Salem menthols
And chewed the Mail Pouch brand

He drove a Ford tractor and an old Model T
But did his courting on horseback I am told
Grandma rode "side saddle" in his arms
Closed her eyes and dreamed about a band of gold

He'd sing me a song about "Lin's Creek Mountain"
And some of Jimmie Rodgers' blues
I may have only been knee high at the time
But on his lap I was 6 feet 2

He'd take me for ice cream
And it made me prouder than any toy
When he introduced me as "his little man"
'Cause I was just a boy.

He gave me my first cigarette
But it wasn't lit and I didn't smoke
It was just his way of letting me run ornery
When Mom, Aunt and Grandma wanted to choke

He loved the game of boxing
Jack Dempsey was his man
But Grandpa loved to tell the story
Of how Joe Louis fought Schmeling of the Nazi land

Many people came to hear the fight
Sandwiches, cold drinks and a Truetone radio
But two minutes into the match it was over
Max was on the canvas and it was time to go

He taught me about a work ethic
If you give 8 hours work for 8 hours pay
When you look in the mirror for your morning shave
You'll be more than ready to start another day

The tears on my face are salty
They fall for the "salt of the land"
But has it been that long
Since they were wiped away by Grandpa's sturdy and?

It's a travesty that his hammer no longer pounds the nails
Or that the humming of his electric saw can not be heard
Emphysema slowly smothered and finally silenced Grandpa
Who said more than most folk when he didn't say a word

Happy birthday Grandpa! We sure miss you!


Mike Peters

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