They Refuse to Stay Buried
Many times memories refuse to stay buried and will resurrect. These are mostly what I write about and share. While I was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland, I got a telephone call from my mom, Sybil Beck. With phone rates being so expensive other than local calls, I was surprised. I was 20 years old and no longer a teenaged kid, what she had to say hit me hard. My grandfather, her father had died. He was the first really close family member to die. A coal miner at night and working his farm to feed his family during the day, he had finally worn himself out.
Hardening of the arteries had been overtaking his mind for several years. He was so used to tending the farm and caring for his animals, he was constantly restless creating problems for my grandmother Rebecca. She had to constantly on the alert to keep him from wandering off. All of his animals were sold off and the barn had collapsed, but in his mind, they were still there and needing him.
Multiple times he would rise from his padded rocker and slip on his shoes. Grandma would ask, “Ray, where are you going?” He would reply, “I have to take care of the horses.” Grandma would have him look out the window at the rubble from the fallen barn and remind him, “The animals are gone, Ray.” He would shake his head, kick off his shoes, and settle back into his chair in front of the television. His tobacco spit can beside him n the floor.
Chewing tobacco was a habit that he’d picked up at the coal mines. Many miners chewed tobacco to remind themselves not to swallow the coal dust laden saliva. It wouldn’t be long until he would become restless, finally rising out of his chair and there would be a replay of his desire to check on his animals.
Grandma did have a helper. It was a stray that they got named Laddie. It was a large mongrel, collie mix, mostly black with some brown and white markings in its coat. It was an outside dog and would follow granddad when he managed to escape grandma’s watchful eyes. Laddie was a faithful companion, hanging close to Grandpa’s heels. Laddie seemed to assuage Granddad’s restlessness and the need to have animals near.
The phone call was hard for me to bear. The time, finances, and the distance made it impossible to attend his funeral, but my memories of him refuse to stay buried.