With this Thanksgiving Holiday rapidly approaching I have had to sit down and reflect on all the things which I have been thankful for. I go up to my mountain when I can to express this to God (and you can call that force what you like–that is what I know it to be because it’s easier for everyone to comprehend) and take in whatever lessons that entity decides to impart to me at that time. I have been truly blessed with mild weather this week and will go up there again in a few hours.
The Universe is so infinite, yet people constantly try to say that one day all of that will end as will all life forms on this planet. I do not believe that for a minute. I believe life will continue in cycles. I believe it will be shaken, altered, stirred, beaten down, pressed into a new shape, or simply allowed to continue to slowly evolve into something none of us could have ever imagined in over 500-1000 years time. Whether we witness it or not is anyone’s guess.
Sometimes during this time of year, I truly miss my father, my Grannie Ainsworth and other relatives who have passed. I am grateful for them having been in my path because I know that somewhere in the back of my brain lies that wisdom and with that they all imparted to me. It is this time of year I also remember some things that made me chuckle a time or two as a child.
Today I want to talk about my Grandpa, Elton J. O’Neill. He passed away in 1987 while I was living in King City, CA. I will never forget how mad someone got when they found out that he showed me how to play 5 card stud and I was beating most at it. I haven’t played in years, so I’ve forgotten much of what he taught me, but this is a man who had an interesting history of his own.
At one time he was a caddy for some of the best golfers and ran pool halls and domino halls, which were big business in those days. He enjoyed playing dominoes and such until he could no longer do so.
There were times during the Great Depression that he and my grandmother (Mary) would pick potatoes (or cotton) and such to get by. Grandpa told me more than once that he stole chickens to feed the family once in a while and would take a little money to buy vanilla extract. Why? IF there wasn’t a still around, that is how many people would get drunk in those days.
I also remember a story my father told me about how when he was 9 years old he got caught smoking in the boys bathroom and got his fanny worn out by the principal.
I have one interesting memory of my own. Please bear in mind that my Grandpa O’Neill could not see very well. It was around 1976 or 77 and one day, my father decided to go to Abilene to see if he could find some yard sales to find stuff in. We all loaded up in Dad‘s new “Minnie Winnie”–which was a small Winnebago and headed out. To this day, I also remember Uncle Jackie (my dad’s older brother) being there also. I believe it was either right before or right after Thanksgiving–not sure of the exact date.
We had just passed Cisco, TX and there was a hill up to the right which had a nativity scene on it. It looked real–especially at a distance and with snow on the ground (as there was on this day). My grandpa took a look out the window and squinted at it very hard. Suddenly he said rather loudly, “Look at those hippies up there! Those fools are gonna freeze to death!” We got a kick out of it.
Then of course I miss my Grannie Ainsworth who sometimes danced a jig and played harmonica. I remember eating in “shifts” as what I call “the herd” came over! There were often 30+ people over there during the holidays and when we got finished eating at one grandparent’s house, we’d let it settle and then go to the other ones! I truly miss the porcupine meatballs and the chocolate pies as my sister reminded me of one day. Disclaimer: For those who never heard of those meatballs, they are made from beef–not porcupine meat! I got a laugh out of being asked about that once!
I also have fond memories of Young School. Despite being bullied there are two things that I do not think any former student will disagree with me about and that is the fact that they had the best home-made rolls and fresh vegetables and fruit there was! And we always bought extra chocolate milk (well most of us did anyway). I also remember that there were bats, but I loved going into the auditorium. To this day I remember the swamp coolers, the wood flooring, and the smell of the rolls as they were cooking every morning.
For having all the wonderful people in my life I did have I was truly blessed, and even those who cause adversity in my life blessed me in the end. Without their existence I would not be who I am or where I am today. For those in my life now, I am also truly thankful! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your families, and may you all have more wonderful experiences to come your way in the years ahead!