I have written several times about my Grammie and Pop, my paternal grandparents. I was equally as lucky to have a maternal set of grandparents that were off the scales if one were measuring grandparents!
My thoughts today turn to my Granddad Flanagan. Today would have been his 100th birthday. He was the youngest of nine children in a big Irish-Catholic family. He was doted on and spoiled by his older sisters. In turn, he learned how to love on and spoil all those he loved. I was lucky enough to be one of those he loved to spoil.
As I get older I see clearly the influence all my grandparents had on my life. My love of words comes from both my grandfathers. My deep love of books and great literature is a direct result of my Granddad Flanagan. His love for family was immeasureable, and I like to think I have a small sliver of that as well.
While he is remembered for many things, his love of the earth and his ability to draw from the earth will always be associated with him. Long before the weather was decent enough to go outside, he would have already been out getting everything ready so that when a beautiful day like today came along he was ready to plant. He was a wonderful gardener. I couldn't even begin to count the number of people that were on the receiving end of his garden's bounty. Perhaps it was because he was a full-blood Irishman, but my Granddad Flanagan was 'green' long,long before it was 'cool' to be green. My Granddad was the original 'recycle, reuse, reduce' man. We laughed at him about it. He found a use for everything. He took one mans junk and recycled it into something most of us never would have thought about. He made all kind of projects for his various gardens. He loved equally to garden fruit trees, vegetable gardens, herb gardens and flowers. If it could be grown he grew it.
There was nothing that went to waste with my Granddad Flanagan. My Granddad gave practical gifts as presents. At the time, I never minded getting them, but I did not understand the importance of them until I got older. For instance, he gave Tim and me gifts such as a new wheelbarrow, a big gas can, trashcans complete with a handmade trashcan holder so dogs wouldn't get into the trash, and an assortment of tools and motors. Believe me, all the gifts were handy and used all the time. It is only as I have gotten older that I realize the importance of what he was teaching me. One of his favorite gifts was to give us was a $100 grocery gift certificate. Wasn't that the best and most thoughtful?
One gift he surprised me with, and totally out of character for his practical side, was a huge portrait of my three oldest children from a professional photographer (taken when they were 4,3,and 1). Every time I look at it still I not only "ooohahhh" over my three babies, but I think of Granddad and the fact that he knew I would love it, but never be able to afford it on my own. My Granddad was like that.
He was also the most handsome man I have ever seen to this day. Period. No questions asked. When he was 80 he was still good looking (and not looking a day over 50!). He had the bluest eyes that were filled with mischief and kindness. His eyes looked like the ocean in the blue Caribbean. He was often compared, in looks, to Ronald Reagan, who is ironically another Irishman who would have been 100 this month. Without a doubt my Granddad had movie-star good looks.
My Granddad never wasted time. He was always up and around doing something. He didn't believe in sitting around with nothing to do. He found things to do or new projects to work on. He was early to bed and early to rise without wasting many minutes in between!
My Granddad adored my Grandmother. She loved to wait on him and pamper him. Perhaps he was lucky, or maybe because he was such an outstanding gardener, but for whatever reason my Grandmother was a cook that cannot be matched. She could have made dirt taste good. She not only could cook anything and make it exceptional, but everything she cooked and presented to her family and friends to eat was like a picture. Her tables were beautiful and laden with fresh flowers and fresh food. When I see redbirds I know my grandparent Fergusons are around, but when I see gardens full of food and flowers I think of the Flanagans. As a couple it was unbelievable what they brought from the earth. I would love to hear them now if they could see this whole 'organic and green' movement.
He was a storyteller extraordinaire. He was the wordsmith of words and a man that liked to use many words----- and he knew how to use them well --- both written and verbally. I can still remember rhymes he would say in his sing-song voice. A true Irishman, he talked often in Irish riddles and verses. One verse he repeated so often I can still hear him saying it, "If you're lucky enough to be Irish----You're Lucky enough." Just like the gifts, that I learned in time were far more important than their surface value, I finally understand the depth of that verse.
I was SO lucky to have him in my life........