The End of Everything

When Daddy was 23 years old and was still living at home in Nebraska, one day Grandfather complained to Daddy about chest pains he felt when carrying buckets of water to the hogs. Daddy told him to set the buckets down and he would take care of that chore. A week or so later, Daddy found Grandfather lying on the floor—dead at the age of 71 in the year 1916.

The eventuality of Grandfather’s death had never before really occurred to Daddy. His mother had died when he was a baby and Grandfather had been everything to him ever since. Daddy and Grandfather had lived totally together, often worked together, and spent long winter evenings together. The sudden death was such a shock that Daddy grieved for a year. Finally he asked himself if he was sorry for Grandfather or just being sorry for himself and shook himself out of his sadness.

Generation follows generation. Many years later when as children we would misbehave, and Daddy would punish us, we would ask, “Daddy, why are you so mean to us?” He would reply, in jest, that he was mean so we would not miss him when he was gone. Many an earnest is spoken in jest.


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