Life Changing Experiences
I had a biological father but my Granddad was my dad. What an extraordinary individual he was, a man of love, compassion and integrity; yet as tough as nails, who could work from before the sun came up and would not stop at times until long after it went down and never complain about anything.
He was born Clifford Carl Bertram and raised in Rugby Tennessee; he had no real formal education. He loved to read, and read almost every book in the library in the small town where he grew up. Fortunately for him it was one of the best libraries in the state. It had been put there by the British Aristocracy who came to the area to farm and failed miserably, However they did leave behind some very real treasures in the written words that stocked the shelf of that library. His passion for reading never faded.
Granddad grew up logging, farming and building roads. My Granddad’s family worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. They would also hunt, fish, trap, and trade for the things they needed.
My Granddad was the ultimate outdoorsman, and when it came to fishin’ he excelled even further. Granddad had no fancy fishing gear, the latest camouflage, animal scents or fancy firearms. He used the tools that were available to him. But my Granddad was most always successful.
He made rafts, fishing poles, hooks, tools and trapping devices. To hear him tell the stories was amazing. Anything you got helped feed the family. Yet, sometimes there was danger, like injury, heat and cold related illness and at times hateful people who had nothing better to do but prey on others. This combined with no medical services or understanding of the severity of the problem could mean death.
Granddad always fished, hunted, hiked and explored. He would take me along even when I was a small child; I remember the equipment, such as it was. Things like wool blankets, rope, a good razor sharp hand axe, pocket knife, tarp, mess kit, all neatly stowed in our garage or in some cabinets he had built in the basement. He kept all of his tools meticulously cleaned and put away, waiting to be retrieved at a seconds notice and put to work. Nothing was ever neglected or unaccounted for. He would even make cases for things to keep them orderly. Yet, he never said a word if we broke something or messed it up.
He would sometimes sigh and make a face , but mostly smile and shake his head and come to our rescues showing us how to properly use it.
He always found time to take me on adventures and show me that skill was better than any equipment money could buy. Even if that adventure was to find a secret place in the city park to carve our initials in a tree with a date, and go back and try to locate it year to year.
Whether it was casting off shore, trolling in an aluminum boat, or waiting for that perfect shot on a dear, time with him was never a disappointment. He was always teaching you something, not in the direct sense, but he was always fun to watch. He was direct and methodical, so learning from him came easy, watching his movements time and again.
Excitement would build as we approached our destination, his station wagons were better than any truck and it seemed he could get those things back in anywhere. I honestly can never remember him getting it stuck.
Then there were times when I coaxed Granddad into letting me do adventures alone that typically involved an overnight by the lake or in the woods. He had me so well prepared I could have invaded another country and won. He would stay until it got dark, then walk or drive out and be back before I woke up in the morning. I am not sure if he even really left.
My Granddad was much more to me than just an outdoorsman. He taught me many things while growing up: How to love without, expecting a thing in return, how to be a gentleman and that no matter the situation always start out being nice. You can always get nasty if the situation calls for it, but you cannot go from being nasty to being nice. My Granddad never really cursed and was never rude to anyone. Yet he was not a push over if you came after him you had a tiger by the tail, he was not afraid and was most capable of defending himself.
As I grow older, I reflect back on my time with my Granddad. I know that from birth up to the day he passed away I needed him. Today I see him often when I think of how I should do something. He gave me the gift of his time, and many other skills and even though he gave me many presents over my life I can not remember most of them. Material things just seem to fade away.
So, give thanks to God if he blessed you with a dad, or Granddad or whomever may have had a positive influence in your life. Positive influences are something we should treasure, but never keep to ourselves they need to be passed along.