He was just a country farmer.
I doubt that most ordinary people realize the impact they make on others. I don’t think my grandfather, John Springer, thought much about what he was teaching me when I visited his Oklahoma farm. I think he was simply too busy enjoying my company. I don’t say that because I was particularly entertaining; I just always felt that his focus was on being together and cherishing the time we had. I spent a lot of years in California and only brief weeks in Oklahoma, mostly during the summers. I don’t think Pappa felt any obligation to impart his wisdom during my visits, it just happened, as naturally as breathing.
He called me “doe”. If speaking to someone else about me, he called me “Marylizabeth”, all melted together in a slow drawl. He spoke to me of plants and animals and how to stay safe in the woods. He talked about watermelons and soil and how to feed cows. He laughed at me when I balked at using the outhouse. He said, “well that happens” when the horse stepped on my foot. He liked to think he could cook. He taught me to plant tomatoes and dig potatoes. He always saved the freshest, sweetest new potatoes for me. He took all the grandchildren on wagon rides and let me ride his horse.
Pappa had a way with animals and people. I always had the feeling that he was a person who could see right to the very heart of who you were. He wasn’t judgmental…he just understood.
I’m sure Pappa had his faults and his detractors. He was a man, not a saint. I’m sure there were sides to his personality that were less than perfect. My mother made the comment once that he was a very, very strict father. But as a grandfather he was gentle and wise and wonderful . I often think of him when I take my morning walk, especially when the ground is heavy with dew and there is a certain smell in the air. I think perhaps it might be the wet cedars, like the ones that surrounded his home, but something about foggy mornings always triggers thoughts of a wise country famer who taught me to respect the land.