Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pa Thomas

    That dern corn on his toe was just about to wear him to a frazzle, but he couldn't worry about that right now. His little granddaughter was here for a visit and he wasn't about to let a sore toe put a damper on that. In his long life, Pa Thomas had been through a whole lot worse things than a sore toe. In another century, the nineteenth, he came over here from Holland and fought in our Civil War. I'm not too sure about this part, but it seems like I remember someone in our family sayin' somthin' about him getting caught as a stow-away on a ship halfway between here and Holland and then having to spend some time as an endentured servant, doing some kind of farmwork. Anyway, he served for the North out of West Virginia. After that, all I know is he got married to Ma Thomas and they started having children. As automobiles came along later on, in the twentieth century, Pa Thomas would hitch-hike into Charleston on the week-ends to see his children, now grown, and that was a danger in itself. Especially since he stood in the middle of the road to do that. I'm sure the roads, the few there were back then, were really bad and maybe there was just no place to hitch-hike on the SIDE of the road. That must be it because I'm also sure that Pa Thomas was not doing it that way because he was just dumb. He was not. 
      On the day we're talking about, the day of the corn on his toe, Pa was getting his picture taken. He would be sitting on the front porch, not all dressed up, but nice and clean and tidy, and his granddaughter would be sitting on his lap, playing with his long, white beard and his long, white hair which came down past his shoulders. Photography had come a long ways by then and the picture is pretty clear. Pa is wearing glasses and one hand lays on his right knee and the other is on the small of the little girl's back. He is wearing suspenders so his shirt is tucked in. He is looking at her and she is looking back at him. It is a somewhat comical picture and it radiates a lot of love. It is a picture of my Great Grandfather and my mother.
      I understand that just a moment after that photograph was taken, the little girl jumped down off the old man's lap and took off running across the yard, chasing her dog. It was hot and Pa took out his hankerchief and wiped the sweat from his neck and forehead and commenced immediately to untie his right boot and take it off, then gently remove his sock. Then he stood up and reached in his pocket for his penknife, limped over to the edge of the porch and sat down there. His right knee was up against his beardy chest and his foot, the one with the corn on the toe, was planted firmly on the deck. The other foot was resting on one of the wooden steps. Pa Thomas then simply cut the dern corn off!
    In the end, that little toe really did wear Pa to a frazzle. It killed him. A few days after that lovely picture was taken, he got blood poison and died. 
     Mama always spoke admiringly and sweetly of that old man and I've always wished I could've known him. I've got some of his shoemaking tools and that'll have to do, I guess. Well, I've also got a nice little write-up about him from a local newspaper. Near the end of the article it says, "There were  three living Veterans of the Civil War and now, with the death of 'Pa Thomas', there are only two."

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