Blue Eyes, Big Hands, and The Art of Staying Busy


I missed the memo about blue eyes, big hands, and the art of staying busy.

A few months back, a wrote a little something about my Grandma, who died a few years ago.  After she died, my Grandpa decided to simplify things by selling the big old house where he and Grandma had raised their family.  He moved to a fairly swanky seniors community where he had a lake view, hot meals prepared every day, and no shortage of  female admirers.  In a place like this, any guy in his 80s who’s got most of his teeth is going to be the beau of the ball…but my Grandpa really was handsome….check him out:

Grandpa and me, 1980.

He was in his late 50s here, I think.  Back in his 20s and 30s, he looked like Mel Gibson.   And I’m not talking wild-eyed, mug shot Mel Gibson, I’m talking  The Year of Living Dangerously Mel Gibson.  Seriously, Grandpa had these big blue eyes that never lost their sparkle.  Even as an octogenarian, he was a cutie.

With my son, Atticus, in 2009. That’s a whole lotta blue-eyed trouble.

And check out the paws on this guy.  As a child,  I was in awe of my Grandpa’s hands.  Within our family, it was widely rumored that Grandpa was fully capable of picking up a child by his or her head, one-handed.  I made it a point never to find out if that was actually true.

But those big hands were dextrous.  Grandpa worked for phone company for decades and in that time handled countless miles of wire, deftly handling the delicate stuff that made phones work before satellites came along and changed the game.

Even after he retired, he had to keep those big hands busy.  His house and car were full of all sorts of Macgyver-esque improvisations of engineering.  He became the neighborhood handy man and he loved to tinker and do jigsaw puzzles.  Anything to keep his hands busy.

While he enjoyed the ease and activities at his condo, I think my Grandpa missed having a whole houseful of stuff to tinker with.  He still mended the occasional clock radio for a neighbor, but it just wasn’t quite the same.  And I wonder if being less busy, and perhaps losing some of his sense of purpose, made life a little harder for my Grandpa in some ways.

My Grandpa died last month, somewhat unexpectedly, given his relatively good health for a man his age.   If we each get a custom-fit version of heaven, I suppose in his, he’s restored to the ravishing good looks of  his youth and there are broken toasters as far as the eye can see.  If he can rewire things for all eternity, then I think his soul will be at peace.  Love you and miss you, Grandpa.  Memo received.

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4 thoughts on “Blue Eyes, Big Hands, and The Art of Staying Busy

  1. Ashley July 15, 2012 / 5:36 am

    A lovely tribute. Sorry to hear about your loss, Jamie.

  2. sheila clapkin July 15, 2012 / 4:16 pm

    God Bless you and yours, Jaimie Walker Ball!! Thank you for the Grandma and Grandpa memories.

    • Jamie Walker Ball July 16, 2012 / 4:10 pm

      Thank you, Ashley & Sheila. I was very lucky to have my grandparents in my life for as long as I did and I have lots of good memories to share, so I’m pretty blessed.

  3. woomerhasit July 17, 2012 / 9:02 pm

    What a great memo, Jamie.
    And your grandpa was definitely a very handsome fella! I’m sorry for your loss and certainly hope he’s enjoying toaster heaven. =)

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