Grandpas can be such silly creatures. I have observed such silliness in many different grandpas for years. My Dad’s father died long before I was born. Mom’s father passed away when I was barely four. Therefore, I only know a little of each of my grandfathers through bits and pieces of family stories and the memories of others. However, even with having had practically no such personal experiences I find myself capable, yea, sometimes prone to be one of those silliest of creatures, a giddy grandpa.
Grandpas sometime make silly sounds and have funny habits. Some make sounds like, “harrumph, hmm-mm, wshoo, phooey-looey”, or some other meaningless expression. How about peculiar habits? Although I had lived happily in the same house with my dad for twenty years, it was my sons who observed years later while visiting that their Pawpaw yawned in triplets. When remembering him they still take delight in mimicking his drawn-out “huuhh, huuhh, huuhmm” yawns; always, they observed, were in sets of three. Several of Dad’s grandchildren laughingly remember his nightly bedtime ritual with his self concocted liniment. Although no one ever observed him doing so, everyone in the house immediately knew what he was doing when they smelled the permeating odor of what the kids came to call “Pawpaw’s Butt-Rub” which he used nightly to soothe his hips and legs.
Some grandpas feel free to do silly and absurd things for fun, especially with their own grandchildren. My older siblings and cousins like to recount with joy and laughter how their Pa Gilley loved to lay them across his knees and “play the piano” with his fingertips up and down their spines while singing them a tune. They also fondly recall how he would “take their pictures” by having them pose as he held his cat with its rear end facing them. He would then raise and lower the cat’s tail while making a clicking shutter-like sound with his lips and teeth. He then would take pieces of paper and make little sketches for them “to develop said pictures.” I enjoy their memories and watching them laugh while recalling and telling them, almost as much as if I was there.
Our dad who was the personification of a stoic man could become quite silly and childlike with his grandchildren at times. When my younger sister’s daughter was only a toddler Pawpaw took great delight in entertaining her by mimicking a donuts commercial that was popular on television at the time. Dad would place his index finger across his top lip simulating a mustache and with silly voice pretend to be the sleepy-eyed, mustachioed donuts baker who had arisen in the wee hours of the morning to make fresh donuts. Oh, how Pawpaw took such joy being silly with my little niece, and my son as well when he was present, with his finger across his lip and crying in silly voice, “Is it time to make the donuts? Is it time to make the donuts?”
I also remember Pawpaw laughingly telling my older son and nephews about the times of his personal “Spring Cleanings” when his parents gave him and his brothers “workatives” or what we’d call laxatives. The mental picture he conjured when laughing and telling of “spending the day in a private place in the edge of the woods with his overalls hung over a tree limb” may have brought protestations from Mawmaw, but it brought guffaws of laughter from his adolescent grandsons and joyous smiles to us, their parents, watching such loving interaction.
Yes, grandpas can be such silly men with silly games and silly sounds and silly stories. Maybe that’s because we realize we missed so many opportunities to have such fun and be so frivolous with our children as we raised them. It may be that we come to understand that we’d better start enjoying life more before our own time runs out. Or, maybe it’s because such unconditional love and adoration from grandchildren just pulls it out of us.
-Donald R. Sansbury