Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Job Well Done!

As I am watching the leaves falling from the trees, I am reminded of the yearly chore of raking the leaves and bundling them up to be disposed of.  As a child – it was a lot more fun to rake them up in a pile and spend half the day jumping into the piles and scattering them all over again.  Back in 1990, my great grandfather was in the twilight months of his life.  After 98 years of living, his body was breaking down but certainly not his will or his desire to see a job well done!  My father relates two stories about his grandfather that exemplifies both of these strong character traits of Granddad Gage.

Granddad Gage was well known for both his work ethic and the excellent quality of his work.  That is a skill that is probably not appreciated enough in today’s society.  At 70 years old, he probably could outwork many men decades younger than he.  Back in the early 1960’s, my parents had bought their first house and had to put a sewer line in from the road – Granddad Gage offered to help with the project.  Dad asked him to make his arrival a little later in the morning because he had to work a late shift.  Granddad was probably there by 7 am – which he probably thought was late enough.

My mother had gotten up early – probably to take care of a fractious child and laid back down on the couch.  She suspected that Granddad would probably be there early in the morning.  Sure enough there was a knock on the door and Mom scurried off the couch to answer the door.  Granddad informed Mom to let Dad know he was there and would get started.  Mom raced into the bedroom to wake my poor father up – he hadn’t had much sleep.  Dad hurriedly got up and dressed quickly.  He had been well trained of his Grandfather’s expectations and didn’t dawdle.
Granddad Gage had a special spade that he used to dig sewer ditches and he had a specific way in which he dug the ditch.  By the time my father arrived outside, Granddad had already gotten several feet dug out already.  Each pile of dirt was in neat pile alongside the ditch and the ditch was uniform in how deep and wide along every step the way.  If a job had to be done – then it had to be done in the right way or it wasn’t worth doing.  Like he had done with all of his sons – he preceded to teach my twenty something father on the right way to dig a ditch for a sewer line.  Several of my great uncles told my father that they had received the same lesson.  That spade remains an important family heirloom.  I’m sure that it is several decades old – and I am also sure that it doesn’t look its age.  Granddad Gage took immaculate care of all of his tools. My father is now the same age as his grandfather was when he helped him dig that sewer ditch almost 50 years ago.  Dad was impressed with his grandfather back them – but he is even more impressed now.  I don’t think that Dad believes that he could dig that sewer ditch with the same skill and speed at his age today as his grandfather did all those years ago.

During the fall of 1990, my parents were visiting my Great Grandparents in Canby, OR.  They had some lovely trees around the house and their leaves had fallen.  My father, being the good grandson that he was, offered to rake and bag the leaves – Granddad took him up on his offer.  So the two of them went outside and Granddad Gage sat in a chair while my father started to work.  At 98 years old – Granddad still felt that he needed to instruct his 50 year old grandson on the proper way to rake the leaves and the proper way to bag them.  My father was glad to benefit from his wisdom.  That was the last visit that my father had with his grandfather – so like the many other experiences he had.  That of a Grandfather imparting his wisdom and knowledge to his grandson.

Granddad Gage using his sythe to cut the weeds in 1974.
Every other year, our family has a family reunion at my great uncle’s place up on Hatter Creek, near Princeton, ID.  These family reunions were held at the behest of my great grandparent’s wishes as they wanted their family to remain close and connected to one another.  There are a lot of the young kids in the family who never met Grandma and Granddad Gage – but when my father and his uncles get together, inevitably the subject of Granddad Gage comes up.  There is a theme that interweaves all of the tales that are told.  That of a loving father who was strict and demanded that his children work hard and do whatever job they were doing well!  They have all led successful lives in businesses like education, accounting, manufacturing and the lumber industry.  Ever one of them can claim that their successes were based in large part, to the example that their father and grandfather gave them.  It is a heritage that as a family, we are proud of!

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