On The Grindstone

I got the letter yesterday. Said my grandfather had passed away.
I’m all right. I’m all right. They said he went out in a blaze of light.

He was born in a mining town, way up in Oregon where the rains come down.
His folks moved down to L.A. in 1908 for a little sun and higher pay.

He learned young that life is work. He nearly broke his back shovelin' dirt.
He and his mates made the waters flow from Owens River Valley to San Fernando.

On the grindstone, beneath the wheel. Through this life, your work was real.

He took him a wife named Marjorie MacLeod. They had four sons. Only two are still around.
One was born deathly still. By a runaway car the other was killed.

He started a business in the plumbing game, cleaning sewers to make his name.
Luck was his, and in 30 years he found himself a millionaire.

The eldest son stayed on with the firm. His sense of duty was easy to learn.
His four grandsons don’t know who he was. They’d say, “There goes ol’ Grand Dad. He never talks too much.”

On the grindstone, beneath the wheel. Through this life, your work was real.

I was groomed to follow his path. I'd be a plumber. I’d relive his past.
He offered money and a safe career. When I refused him, they said he shed tears.

His wealth to him had little worth. He said he'd die if he gave up his work.
He and Marjorie gave up last year in a leisure village not far from here.

We never looked each other in the eyes. For that, I can never apologize.
Now he’s gone. I hope he’s free. He was my grandfather, a stranger to me.

On the grindstone, beneath the wheel. Through this life, your work was real.

Copyright 2006 NADJA MUSIC Reinaldo García
April 1974 Point Arena, CA

Reinaldo's grandfather, Harold

Reinaldo’s grandfather, Harold (1903-1984),
On the right.

I wrote this in 1974, a decade before my grandfather actually died.
I think we should all write eulogies for each other before we die.

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