Wednesday, November 11, 2009
These crab pots and that flag live down Onemo at the public landing.
Today is Veterans Day which has little to do with crab pots but does have a little something to do with the flag. Based on my proclivity for rambling, however, by the time this post is over with I'm liable to have linked crab pots with veterans, so let's not rule out a connection just yet.
My paternal grandfather was known as The General in Mathews County where he retired, but his grandchildren called him Gus. Both names were not exactly on the mark - he was a Brigadier General and his first name was Gustave. (Hence my mother's hesitation at awarding her goose that name. However, both had a Take Charge Attitude, so she acquiesced. The family name lives on in a fiery-tempered goose with his own Facebook page.)
Gus graduated from West Point in 1920 and was stationed everywhere from San Francisco to the Phillipines. I have pictures of him on Corregidor in 1929 and the German freighter Kulmerland off Singapore in 1930. There are stories of him rubbing elbows with This President or That Very Important Person, and he certainly had a long list of impressive military accomplishments.
But what I remember about Gus doesn't involve his career, which he rarely referenced. What I remember is how he called us his Vikings. (Probably because we were blond-haired kids who ran amok like savages. No offense to any present-day Vikings out there, but they did have a reputation for destruction. On the other hand, they were excellent explorers and navigators who later established a successful football franchise in Minnesota.)
Ordinarily an aloof man, he greeted his grandchildren with bear hugs whenever we saw him. His military career prevented him from seeing his own 3 boys grow up, so as if making up for lost time he cherished every visit. In later years, he'd tear up after hugging us goodbye, even though we were only going next door. Just next door.
What I appreciate most about Gus, though, were the life lessons he instilled in his grandchildren. Refusing to sit still during his retirement, he started a daffodil farm and hired us as his farm hands every spring. Although the work was hard, the rewards have lasted a life time.
After living all over the world, Gus retired to bucolic Mathews County in 1954. If not for him, I wouldn't know this peaceful paradise. Impressive military career notwithstanding, Gus knew and appreciated the gifts that abound in this charming coastal community, and he understood the importance and beauty of connecting with the natural world.
He was a very wise man.
p.s. Regarding crab pots and their relevance to Veterans Day, here's the connection: Without my grandfather--the veteran--I wouldn't live in Mathews, which has a history of watermen--who use crab pots. See?
p.s.s.t. Chesapeake Bay Viking has a certain ring to it.
p.q.r.s. What do you remember about your grandfather(s), assuming you knew him/them?