My Beloved Daughter,
The sheer number of your grandpa’s hospitalizations almost became a humorous farce in his later days. Whenever he would come down with pneumonia (complicated by his emphysema), we would have to take him to the hospital. As the nurse would check him in, she’d ask him to verbally list his past hospitalizations. By the time he had finished the list, everyone in the room was laughing so hard that they were in tears.
Grandpa was almost proud of some of his pains. When he was younger (before he met your Grandma Pat), he fell off of a three-story building, breaking his jaw and his leg. He also knocked enough of his teeth out of his mouth that they had to pull them all and he had dentures for the rest of his life. I can remember how he’d stick his bottom teeth out at us kids, causing fits of childish giggles. Like his father, Grandpa Chuck was playful towards children. I can remember him sticking his bottom dentures out at you and you had the same reaction. Regarding his hospitalization for that fall, he would tell us that the nurses would come in and wake him up so that they could give him something to help him sleep.
When I was around three years of age, I remember us visiting my dad’s parents. It couldn’t have been long before we moved down there. Anyway, he took my cousin, Mark’s, dirt bike (kind of a small motorcycle) for a ride up the old country road that they (and, eventually, we) lived on. The ride should have taken just a few minutes. After about half-an-hour, your Grandma was ready to go looking for him when he came walking down the road. I remember him holding his arms folded across his chest, like he was deep in thought. But he was holding his shoulder, like it was hurting.
He had flipped the bike and broken his collarbone. We had to drive around to numerous medical clinics to find one who would accept someone without insurance (remember how the Union got him fired?). The bone didn’t set properly and he always had a bump there, even later in life.
Another medical issue he had, when I was just a little older, was his hernia. I was in elementary school when he hurt himself at work on the boat, having to have surgery to fix the tear in the lining of his stomach. I remember how much pain he was in whenever I would sit on his lap before the surgery. I’d get an “Ow, son!” But he wouldn’t make me get up.
Over the course of these writings, I’m going to be discussing Grandpa Chuck’s health, as it had such an effect on my childhood. The fact that he worked until his health was shattered just serves to remind me how much he loved his family.