Tag Archives: Flxible Bus Company

3-D GRANDPARENTS

1940 billboard painted by A.B. McCaskey (grandpa)It is national grandparents’ day. Hmmm – – – didn’t even know we had one until FB came along. Then again, I didn’t have much first hand knowledge about grandparents. I envied my cousins who had a set of grandparents and often wondered how it felt. When I got to go with them to visit, I felt like I had entered a 3-D grandparent storybook.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Prov 16:21

My grandfathers were only black and white, 2 dimensional faces that would stare back at me when I opened the photo album and traced their faces with my nail- img050bitten finger. My maternal grandfather, Alfred Bernard McCaskey, died before my brother or I was born. As I got older, mom’s stories wrapped around those pictures in my mind. There are too many stories to tell here, some not too wonderful.  But there is one funny story: Grandpa would hit the one closest to him at the dinner table when someone misbehaved. – the problem? It didn’t matter if he/she was guilty – he/she was the closest, hence they got the smack. He was a dark haired sign-painting artist (see the above billboard), a roller skate racer, a Cunack – as my mother often referred to her heritage. His DNA gave my mom her artistic eye and skills as he taught her to draw, do lettering, knit, crochet and tat, after all – that is what Canadian Catholics did in the winter to pass their snowbound days.

“Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Is 46:4

Charles Arthur Ferris still remains a mystery to me. Dad didn’t talk to me about Grandma&pa Ferrishim much except to say I had his eyes and thick hair. When I look at his picture, I can’t tell the color of his eyes. but I can see he has a healthy head of white hair, and I certainly have that. Sadly – since I was 18 my hair started graying – I have had that as well. Even though he died shortly after my big brother was born (big bro is 9 years older than me), my brother knows much more about him. The stories that are too nebulous in mine to repeat because they never became real to me.  In my mind, there just are no warm funny stories attached to his picture, and it makes me sad because I wonder what he taught my father or what he would have taught me. I do know – that whatever he taught my father – it must have been pretty great, because my father was an awesome daddy.

“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Ps 92:14-15

Mary Mayme Wachtel Ferris died before I was three. My actual memories ofGrandma Ferris and me her are – none at all. Funny – I have three pictures of her. A fuzzy, black and white picture of a gray-haired lady smiling and holding my newborn self in her arms which is – perhaps – my favorite. Another captures her at a much younger age. It hangs on the wall of our living room. Dark hair, solemn, standing in a long dress with two youngsters standing beside her in front of a little home that looks more like a shack than a house. The little girls were my father’s two older sisters. The third picture is the one of her and grandpa together in front of a store in Lakeville. No warm stories surround any of these pictures either. History is lost for wont of a story sometimes, but I am thankful for the pictures.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Tim 1:5

It is Grandma Ruth Marie Shoemaker McCaskey, affectionately called img049Grandma Mac, that embodies the grandparent soul to me. A photo album can not contain the stories that fill my mind when I think of her. I can still feel her lap underneath me as I curled into her warm arms. I can smell her home every time I cook something. The garden dirt caked on my fingers is not much different from her dirt where she taught me the value of life’s sustenance and what you could do with it (not to mention dandelion wine). When I am tired, it is her face at the end of a long shift at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company is where she went work after her husband died) that gets me moving again. She is my story.  She was my 3-D grandparent.

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Deut 4:9

Knowledge and wisdom aren’t confined to a book. Knowledge and wisdom can be passed down from generation to generation. If one is lucky, discernment is thrown into that mix as well. I know well that those are traits that my Grandma Mac passed on to my mom. Everytime my mom held my children or sang to them or baked a birthday cake (that she truly never ate), I saw Grandma Mac. Grandma Mac had done the same for me. I’m glad that my Grands have 3-D Grandparents in their lives, and I pray that – someday – my Grands will see us in their own parents.

Children’s children …. seed-heirs….. blessings passed from one generation to another….3-D grandparents….

Grandma mac favorite

Grandma Mac

“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.” Prov 3:1-2

Long ago, children were raised by a village.  Family was all around.  Teachers could be found on every little street, church and school.  Good teachers hold a special place in our memories.  Sometimes those memories swirl around in our head and emerge to remind us of some knowledge that we gained because of that one person.  One of my favorite Grandma Macteachers was Grandma Mac.  There are so many memories of this lady.  Mother 0f 8 and an additional still-born set of twins.  Strong matriarch after her husband died.  Loving Grandma.  There was nothing better than stopping to see her when I was out riding my bike or walking home from school. Her kitchen was full of aromas that never came out of our kitchen at home.  (Mom may have been her daughter, but she never could manage to cook like her mama.)   Homemade noodles, cookie jars full of un-burned sweetness (mom always “overcooked” cookies), chocolate-meringue-topped pies, sauerkraut setting on the back porch with the wine bottles brewing..and on and on and on.

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.”  Prov 17:6

In those days, we could ride our bikes all around our small town…day into night…at least…until the car horn beeped three times or the fireflies lit our way home.  Parents never worried about what we were doing; they knew that neighbors were always keeping their eyes open for mischief, and I could get spanked from them Grandma Mac retirementas well as mom or dad. Inevitably, there were the stops at Grandma’s house – especially after she got home from working at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company). If she was not home yet, I would wander around her kitchen garden, sit on the porch and read my favorite book of the day, or explore the old barn behind her house.  To my way of thinking, the 50’s were the perfect time to grow up. Church on Sunday, family gatherings, bike rides, minstrel shows, a library full of books, and endless list of happy times, but at the top of that list was always Grandma Mac.

grandma's panYesterday, my daughter picked strawberries and shared some with us, so today I made shortcake. Grandma taught me her recipe as I stood on a chair by her side….flour, buttermilk, baking powder, butter, sugar and a touch of vanilla.  Sometimes she even patted it with powdered sugar as she put it in the baking dish…golden brown heaven covered with strawberries, homemade ice cream and real whipped creme.  Some of her grandma toolskitchen pictures and  tools remain in my own kitchen, and it makes me smile as I think about her hands holding the same ones that I hold.  Double boiler pan slightly colored on one side from our house fire several years ago, an porcelain funnel, a potato masher.  Simple things but so precious.

Memories bring us close to those who have traveled through this world before us.  They were our first teachers –  our touchstones.  Stones that are handled throughout many generations.  Stones that have been carved by the sharp knives of  knowledge, wisdom, and love.  Stones that are left behind for us to hold and treasure.  Now I have my own Grands, and already, they stand on chairs by my side.  We haven’t made any of  Great-Grandma Mac’s recipes…YET.  But summer looms ahead. and I think there will be a day – or hundreds of days – when we will chose one of her touchstones, carving a little more love into it, and passing on the skills that she passed to me.  And believe it or not, I believe the Grands will be teaching me much more than I am teaching them.

“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”  Luke 10:21me grandma 1954