Occasionally my wife has a little trouble getting all her cylinders to fire on a Saturday morning. When nothing is on the agenda she enjoys her coffee and toast followed by a second leisurely cup of coffee.
Most of the time she turns on a television show, "CBS This Morning." I'm showered, shaved and ready to roll by the time I step in her room to see how she has progressed. Sometimes a cat is curled up on her lap, which is another excuse not to rush things.
Seeing no progress, I might sit down for a bit. I learned years ago not to rush her. If I did, it would mean "Ya Got Trouble" -- with a capital T. I bet a few of you remember that song from the 1962 film "The Music Man."
One of the segments on the morning show is entitled "The Dish." The segment has a well-known chef who has prepared an incredible spread of food and drink for the show hosts.
Normally there is enough food on the table to feed a dozen people. After the chef tells the co-hosts his or her story, the chef is asked to autograph a white dinner plate. One of the hosts then asks, "If you could share this meal with any person, past or present, who would it be?"
At times the answer is emotional, as they may reflect on someone who had a powerful influence on their life. After watching this segment several times I finally started thinking about that question.
Who would I share a meal with -- past or present? I’m sure each of us could come up with many names that include family or friends. I'd love to hear from you on who that person be for you.
I think there are no rules here, so as I contemplated this I chose an individual I never met. I’m going to pick my grandfather Fred Else. He died in 1936. He was only 38 years old. Severely injured by a large power saw while cutting lumber on Oct. 4, he died on October 13. Today, I'm sure he would have survived that injury.
There are only a couple of grainy photos of my Grandfather Else. In one, he is sitting on a wagon, holding my dad, who is baby. He looks tall and lanky, like I was years ago. The photo would be late 1922 or 1923.
I was recently poking around on Ancestry.com and I came upon a remarkable find. There was a Van Buren County (Iowa) courthouse log book with my grandpa’s marriage license application on Oct. 8, 1921 followed by the entry of their marriage on Oct. 11, 1921, by Rev. J. C. Coughlan.
He was 24 and my Grandma Freda Nichols was 19. Fred Else was a farmer and laborer in rural Iowa. I also found my grandfather’s World War I draft registration form with his signature. I had never seen his signature before.
If I did have the opportunity to break bread with my grandpa I would give him a hug and a solid handshake. I’d have a big smile on my face. I would tell my Grandpa Else how great it is to meet him. I might let him take a bite or two and then I would start firing questions.
I would ask what it was like growing up when he did. I’d ask how he met Grandma. What was that day like? Did he know right away that she was the woman he would marry?
How did he ask Grandma’s dad for her hand in marriage? Was he nervous that day he went into the courthouse to apply for a marriage license? What was their wedding day like? Was it just immediate family? I would ask him if he worried about the future?
I doubt there were any roaring '20s for small, rural farmers in Iowa and the Depression years in the 1930s had to be brutal. Many years ago I remember my dad saying they always had enough to eat on the farm. Once his dad died, they lost the farm. My dad was 14 years old. Life got hard.
Pick up the tab
I don't know this for sure, but if I took my Grandpa Else out to dinner, let’s say at a local steakhouse, our dinner tab might be more than he earned in several months. This thought is hard to put in perspective.
I’d tell him about my family. I’d tell him how blessed my life has been. I would want him to be proud of me. I’d tell him about my kids and grandkids and how proud I am of them.
I’d tell him that I missed him my entire life. I’d tell him I loved him and if the good Lord was willing, I would see him again. Then we’d order dessert, I’d grab that big check and we’d talk some more.