’18 A To Z Challenge – H

Challenge '18Letter H

HERMIT definition (for 10-year old boys); a man who goes off by himself

We live in a medically marvelous age.  Average life expectancy has almost doubled since my birth.  It was not always thus.

Once Upon A Time in the Old West, Ben Cartwright lived on the Ponderosa ranch, with three sons and a male cook, and not a woman in sight.  Life was particularly hard on women, especially during childbirth, with no doctor handy.

Old Ben had three very different sons.  There was handsome, intelligent Adam.  There was big Hoss, strong as an ox, and almost as smart, and there was smartass, ADHD Little Joe.  The writers may have had a back-story which explained the vast variation among My Three Sons, but many who watched the TV series were baffled.  Finally, several seasons in, they had Ben explain the history and reasons, to Joe (and the audience).

Ben brought an Eastern bride with him when he moved west to achieve fame and fortune.  She gave him Adam, and died.  Ben then married a strapping daughter of a Swedish family from Minnesota, who were moving to California.  She produced Hoss, and also died.  Finally, Ben married the daughter of a town merchant.  She died in childbirth, producing Joe.

My paternal grandfather also experienced similar heartache and heartbreak, but he didn’t have Ben Cartwright’s grit and tenacity.  When the going got tough….he became a hermit.

He married early, and had three kids, two girls, and a son whom he named Cecil – and his wife died.  With the help of an older, unmarried sister, he took care of them until the wife’s clan took them in.  This was a family that my Father was totally unaware of, until his half-brother tracked him down, after he was 65.

After a couple of years, Grandpa remarried, and again, had two girls, and then a boy, my Father, whom he named Cyril. Four years later, his second wife died while delivering another daughter.  Grandpa just disappeared, leaving the older sister, and the rest of his family, to take care of 4 kids, including a baby.

I met never-married ‘Aunt Jesse’ (actually my great-aunt) later in life.  She may have been the first instance in my life of, Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell.  Her actual name was Jezebel, but the devout Baptist would never let it be used.

I don’t know if my Father knew where his father was for almost 20 years.  When I was 4 or 5, my Dad began to take me to visit him, two miles up a concession road, off a nowhere highway.  He was living in a wooden, 2-man logging shack, by the side of the road.  It had a two bunks, a table and two chairs, a latch-string door, (look that one up) one tiny window, a wood-burning stove, no electricity, and a hand-pump for water.  The sink drained outside, but there was no bathroom….and I don’t remember an outhouse.  I used to water a nearby Maple.

After ten years of this, my Grandpa got an offer from a nearby farmer.  The farmer had bought the adjoining farm.  Now he had two farm houses, two barns, and two sets of animals, so he paid my Granddad a little, to live in one farm house, as a caretaker.

As a house, this was a big step up.  This one had central heat, hot and cold running water, a bathroom, and lights.  There was no radio, and no TV.  He had copies of the weekly paper from the nearest small town, but I never saw magazines or books.

Probably, after Dad located his Father, his three sisters (and their spouses) must have visited him from time to time, although we never met anyone else when we visited.  The farmer may have at least passed a little time with Grandpa when he came over to do chores, but he must have been alone for days – weeks – at a time.  As a loner, he makes me look like a rank amateur.

I look forward to your company here, again in a couple of days.  Recommend me to a friend – or an enemy.   😳

 

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