Grandpa’s Knife (from book Spider’s Big Catch) Gary Anderson www.abciowa.com
Sometimes, when I’m stressed or feel need to refocus, I find myself thinking about my grandpa’s knife. There are people in world who drink or take pills in an attempt to manage stress, and some folks handle their rosary beads.
My grandpa whittled.
My brothers and I could always tell when there was something weighing on Grandpa’s mind. He’d pick up several short sticks, sit on porch swing, and begin to whittle. We could judge size of problem he was grappling with by size of pile of shavings at old man’s feet.
As far as I knew, he never whittled anything useful. That was never his purpose. He just took any old stick and began whittling it into a point. Then he’d keep whittling until stick was too short for him to hold, set it down, and start on another one. I marveled at his ability to focus so intensely, just sitting there, gently rocking porch swing, quietly whittling a problem down to size. Then, as if being guided by some inner signal known only to him, we’d see Grandpa suddenly stand up, and we knew he’d reached a decision. He’d pick up a small whisk broom that always stood beside swing, clean up shavings, and walk away in silence.
There were also times when Grandpa’s knife helped teach us other lessons—lessons that were more difficult to face. No matter what our indiscretion may have been, we boys knew that there would come a time after we’d received our punishment when Grandpa would call us to come and sit with him on porch steps. Holding several sticks in his left hand, he’d reach into his overalls with his right hand and pull out his old knife. Then he’d sit on swing and begin to whittle, slowly and deliberately, never looking at us, never saying a word.