My Father’s Father

Carol A. Hand

My Anglo-American grandfather lived in a goathouse
Perhaps it was my father’s father’s way of resisting classism
flipping the bird to his gated-community neighbors
The descendant of the youngest son of British aristocracy
who emigrated to make his own way because of primogeniture

***

Grandfather Wes and Aunt Margaret by the house my Grandfather built -  New Jersey, 1953

Grandfather Wes and Aunt Margaret by the house my Grandfather built –
New Jersey, 1953

***

My grandfather became a master plumber for NYC highrises
but built his own home without working indoor toilets
The hand-pump in the kitchen the only indoor source of water
It’s where his oldest son lived with his family
easy targets of derision from the privileged classes nextdoor
He preferred his two story shack out back
with goats in the basement and scores of canaries flying free upstairs

His wealthy neighbors offered him fortunes to sell his farm
But my grandfather steadfastly refused
Sometimes I wonder if he stayed there just to spite them

Despite the foul smell emanating from of his goathouse
and his dour, unwelcoming and cold demeanor
I respected his eccentric, independent spirit

***

Grandfather Wes - 1977

Grandfather Wes – 1977

***

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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32 Responses to My Father’s Father

  1. kethuprofumo says:

    Great man he is! What stature!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. desilef says:

    What a remarkable family you come from – on both sides. Why am I not surprised?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. feralc4t says:

    I admire people like that. The ones that choose their own way and refuse to bow to peer pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lara/Trace says:

    Truly an eccentric and an artist – what a wonderful ancestor! xox

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a man with a mind of his own who stayed true to his beliefs. It comical in a way how he flaunted his beliefs. Seems like he wanted to bring them down a peg or two. You had good reason to admire him, I do and I didn’t even know him. Well done. ☺☺

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hsampson says:

    Your roots are strong Carol, and I am sure he is proud watching you somewhere now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would have too Carol! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rajagopal says:

    Shacking up and staying put alongside a wealthy neighbourhood must have been a courageous statement in the middle of last century given the steep class divides that existed in those times which refuse to fade away even in the present. Much of America’s prosperity today can probably be traced to the determination and dourness of spirit fostered by penurious conditions in which the earlier generations had to build their lives. I salute your spirit, Carol, for narrating it so proudly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raj, I so appreciate your astute and thoughtful analysis of the context of class divisions and the resiliency that enabled ordinary people to “build their lives” and a nation. And I also thank you for your kind words. 🙂

      Like

  9. Bernadette says:

    An interesting man but it must not have been easy to understand him or be related to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing such thoughtful, important insights, Bernadette. I think it was easier for me to understand him, and even admire his spirit of resistance, than it was for me to feel any sense of close kinship given his dour disposition.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. smilecalm says:

    how wonderful being a continuation
    of ancestors free of greed and perceived
    needs of wealth and luxury, Carol!
    my encounters with simple, “primitive”
    conditions, without running water, power…
    were so valuable in helping me
    be deeper in touch
    with my own existence,
    & the beauty of being alive 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing such thoughtful, lovely reflections about living a simpler life, David. In many respects, I miss living off the grid, but it’s been years. I no longer listen for the surge of the generator when I turn on the water faucet. Honestly, I’m still learning how to “be deeper in touch with my own existence” amid the busyness of life in the city. Gradually, I’m finding that this, too, is a valuable lesson in learning to see the beauty of being alive. 🙂

      Like

  11. I imagine goats make great company. He understood that. My step-grandfather would have gotten along quite well with him! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A wise man. You can’t eat money. So long as you retain your claim to land you always have the means to provide for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kev says:

    I’m sure your grandfather had great reasons to be the way he was. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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