My Grandpa Cardiff was a farmer, an unpolished rough-around-the-edges man who possessed the most amazing volume of swear words I had ever heard. With his grandchildren, Grandpa was gentle and kind, but he was quiet.
|My mother is the small blonde girl on Grandpa's lap.|
He was quiet, but he was a listener which was a good thing because I could talk enough for both of us. With him, my little girl imagination and world of questions could burst free and fill the air.
It was a rarity that a grown-up would sit and listen to me, but he did. We would sit on a bench down by the garden under a twisted peach tree. He cut pieces of tree sap and let me taste it. Once Grandpa even gave me a piece of his “chaw” or chewing tobacco once, and I threw up.
When I spent the night at my grandparent’s house, I slept on the couch in the living room. Grandma often babysat for neighbors, making a whole 25 cents an hour. When Grandma was out babysitting, Grandpa and I watched the black and white TV; his preferences were baseball and boxing.
I understood neither. “Which one do we like, Grandpa?”
But I loved it when he swore. He raised his fist, let loose with a string of profanity, and told the players, “Yuh shoulda …yuh sons of bitches…” I never knew what that meant, so when I said it to my 4th grade teacher, she did not like it one bit.
Later, much later after his death, I learned more about him. How he had been in the Great War, how he was a sniper behind enemy lines. How he had been gassed and what that did to him. What he had seen and what he had to do to survive. Why he was so quiet.
Oddly, I cannot reproduce his wide knowledge of profanity. I guess it was one of his many gifts, and Lord knows, he had the right to use it.
|Men in the infantry were the ones who "went over the top" from the trenches.|