Grandfather Remembered

As a child I lived with my grandparents a great deal  of the time and I loved them very much. One evening I happened to ask my grandfather, John Albert Smith, “What will I do when you and Grandma die?”

He replied, “Don’t worry, child. We will watch over you  always.

They both passed away before I was married, but life  went on as usual. In 1939 my husband and I were  living in   an old,  four-room house in West Liberty, lowa. The kitchen  was heated  by an old wood and coal range, with the stove pipe going up through the first floor to a  chimney in the  upstairs hallway.

My husband, Walter, would get up first,  build the fire, fixhis breakfast, and leave for work before  6:30 A.M.  One winter morning I heard  him go downstairs, shake  up the stove, and slam the door on his way out. Before  going back to sleep I glanced over toward the crib to see if  the baby  was covered.

There stood my grandfather.  He was  clean-shaven except for his  thick gray mustache. He  smiled as he started toward my bed.   Terrified and trembling like a  leaf, I yanked the covers over my head.  Soon I felt  someone shake my shoulder  in the same way  Grandfather used to shake it.

Then I heard Grandfather’s  voice saying, “Come on, girl. It’s time to get up.” He spoke  in Czech,  a language  I had not  used in  years.  I was so frightened I could hardly breathe, but after a  while  I became brave  enough to peek out.

No one was  there. I jumped  out of bed and hurried  downstairs, where I  discovered a dangerous situation.  The top of the stove was red hot and the stove pipe was red almost to  the floor. In a  few more minutes it would have caught fire.

Had I slept as long as usual that morning the baby and I  have been trapped  upstairs. That was the only time my husband forgot to close  the draft before  leaving for work. But Grandfather did not forget,  and he came to take care of me as  he had promised.

Louise  Baldwin

Davenport, lowa

 February 1965


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