Today I wanted to find a photo of my grandfather to put up here, but sadly, I do not have one. My mom has some at home, but right now I don’t have access to post any. He served in the Navy for a number of years and fought in Korea. I never knew him though. He died when my mother was 15 and as one of the few constants in her life, I know that it must have been terribly traumatic.
Calling him “grandfather” is terribly formal for me and for this part of the country it can even be seen as callous or rude not to have a more familiar pet name for a grandparent. And that’s a strange thought. I have no idea what I would have called him. I asked Mom once before and I believe she mentioned something like “Daddy ____” (a lot of folks in her family tag “daddy” onto the front of an older man’s name). He had a few names though. Joseph Weldon “Leon” Kincade. Most folks called him Leon, but my grandmother called him “Joe” (go figure, her name was Lillian Louise and everyone called her “Sally”–which is interesting because when I was younger a man we went to church with started calling me Sally and it stuck. He never met or knew anything of my grandmother).
What I do know of my grandfather is what Mom has told me. He did his best to provide for and take care of his family and he served his country well. He was a pilot and once he was out of the service he flew commercially (I believe). That’s why my mom was born in Colorado and not in Texas.
I hear that women often end up marrying men that share traits with their fathers (of course, in cases of deadbeats or abusers it can be either this way or running as far to the other end of the spectrum as you can get). Piecing what I know of him together with what I see in my dad, I can deduce that he was a faithful, dutiful, responsible man, who wanted his children to have the very best chance in life. Without divulging too much (I believe I’ve talked about my mom’s family before, but I can’t recall), I can say that my grandfather made some tremendous sacrifices for the sake of his children. Some of the decisions he was forced to make…well, I cannot imagine the pain he probably went through in choosing to let someone else take care of his children. But instead of being selfish he gave them a new life and a chance.
And I think that, while a lot of that decency was instilled in him when he was a child, a good portion of who he turned out to be can be attributed to the training and discipline he received while serving our country. Without that presence of mind and selflessness I am not sure that he would have made the decision to give his children a chance at a better life–a decision that brought my mother to Oklahoma, through the doors of a church, and eventually to an altar where she would marry a man that reflected the decency and kind heart she’d seen in her own father.