As a child I always thought it cool that my dear Grandpa Olaf shared a February 22nd birthday with the first president of the United States, George Washington (It certainly made it easier to remember Grandpa's birthday!). If he had lived during the age of the ancient biblical patriarchs, he would still be a young man today at 122 years of age.
I was very fond of my Grandfather. He wasn't much for conversation, yet his natural reserve made me feel secure--like everything was under control. My siblings and I loved to run into his arms whenever we went to visit him, and he swept us off our feet with a warm smile and hearty embrace. I knew he loved us.
One fine day just we kids were having lunch with my grandparents. I was eating pan-fried potatoes when all of a sudden, a small piece of potato lodged in my windpipe. I panicked, jumped up from my chair straining to breathe. I'll never forget how my grandfather immediately dropped his fork and knife as his head jerked in my direction. He stood up and started whacking me on the back with his hand. As you can see, I didn't choke to death, because I am still here to tell this story. The potato was dislodged, thanks to God's mercy and my grandfather's heavy hand, and after the ordeal we all settled back at the table again. All Grandpa said was, "I was about to pick you up by your feet and shake you like I did to your aunt Vi when she was a little girl." We all laughed, but it was hard for me to swallow the rest of my food. Yet Grandpa didn't go on about it, didn't make over me or hug me as if he had almost lost me. It had just been another chapter in our lives.
Grandpa, Happy 122nd Birthday!