My grandfather turned 96 in August. He’s a child of the Midwest, a father of eight, a Harvard Business School graduate who never went to college, the founder of the first radio station in southwestern Missouri and of Channel 38 in Boston, a former Fidelity VP who also worked for NASA, and an electronics whiz who installed and taught the use of radars for Doolittle’s Raiders.
Yes, you read that right. My grandfather has done some very interesting things in his 96 years.
When I was little I knew none of this, though. I knew that my grandfather was a vegetarian with a sweet tooth and a Christmas tree farm who could do a flip off a diving board well into his 60’s and went to church every Sunday. That he’d decide to build a two-car garage and end up with a second floor guest suite, too. That he’d always have a tree swing in the backyard for the grandkids, and that despite living in New England for half a century, he never lost the Ozark twang in his voice. And all that is pretty darn cool, too.
These days my grandfather lives half a country away. Although he tires easily, his mind is still sharp and his memories are priceless. I thought, when I went to make him something for his birthday, that I’d keep those things in mind – his sharp intellect and his connection to the past. I chose a Missouri Star block for its history and the fabrics for their evocative nature, and put them into a pillow for comfort.
The Missouri Star block is a traditional one and my grandfather immediately picked up on it; it reminded him of the quilts his mother made for friends and family. I used blues and soft grays, looking for patterns that were masculine but expressive – wheeling birds, a navy and white print that, when cut into small parts, made me think of rough grasses; pale blue and gray crosshatch like worn and well-loved shirts.
Happy birthday, Grandaddy.