Going to Grandpas' house was always the high point of my childhood. Weekends, summers and holidays were all spent with Grandpa. I didn't care if it was Easter or Christmas or that hateful city school was over, what I cared about was Grandpa.
One Sunday we were planning on going " down home" to Grandpas. Usually that meant getting up and leaving early so our family could be there by 9 or 10. This particular Sunday our car had problems and we were running late. By the time that we arrived the rest of my family consisting of various aunts and uncles and cousins were already there. After walking into the house filled with various smells of something good cooking. After a few brief hugs I was told to go out and play until dinner time. So out the door I went. There are cousins to chase, hiding holes in the barn where there may be new kittens to name I was a happy kid for awhile.
After a while we are all called to go wash up and get ready eat. We sit and hold hands and give thanks for what the good Lord and the land has provided for us. Fried chicken, gravy, biscuits that melt in your mouth, real mashed potatoes, fresh picked green beans with bits of home cured ham. Homemade love on the table with plenty for everyone . After dinner there is peach cobbler that is still warm from the oven. Grandma sure can cook.
Everyone heads outside to escape the heat of the house and smoke their stinky pipes and talk of all the things you dont talk about at the table. All of us kids go back to doing what ever we were doing before dinner. As the day winds down and everyone goes home I start to become aware of an unusual quietness. Something is missing. Something is not right. As daylight turns to dusk I realize what I'm missing. Old Red. Old Red isn't crowing. That is the reason for the quiet. I find Grandpa in his swing facing the road, dozing, pipe in his hand and the bill of his hat down over his eyes.
" Grandpa ?" I ask.
" Humm..Polecat." he replies
" Grandpa, Where is Old Red/"
He sits up and straightens his hat and re-lights his pipe and pats the space beside him motioning for me to come and sit.
" Old Red decided to cross the road. Didn't quite go fast enough and a car hit him." Grandpa tells me.
" Grandpa, we just had chicken for dinner." I say to him.
" That was a pretty fine dinner your Granma cooked today, wasn't it ? " he asks me.
" Yes sir, I guess it was."
Soon there after that Grandpa passed away in that swing with his favorite hat on and his pipe beside him.
As September turned into October the hens quit laying eggs and one by one entered the freezer.