WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity.  He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman.  He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

             “ You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you. You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water … before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again – and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement … Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Reneeand Molki

18 Responses to WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

  1. Thank you for this lovely word-painting. I don't think about my own granddad often enough anymore, and you brought all those wonderful memories back to me this morning.

  2. Good times good story. thanks

  3. Shinazy Shinazy

    Loved this one! I helped my great grandparents with that kind of washer. 🙂 and I had a special bond with my grandfather PoPo. ~ melissa

  4. Shinazy Shinazy

    Very heartwarming! While reading about the washer, I suddenly remembered helping my grandmother with her wash: first hanging it the clothesline, then ironing everything. First we had to sprinkle water on the wrinkled items from a big bottle with holes in the top. (I guess this was before the invention of steam irons…) When dampened, she would roll them up and set them aside. My job was to iron hankies. Thanks for the nostalgic story! ~ Joy

  5. Shinazy Shinazy

    Thanks Shinazy for putting some real life into this Hump Day! ~ carmen

  6. Shinazy Shinazy

    Carmen, You got it…this IS BOBB's goal.

  7. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Writing this brought back a zillion memories… think I'll turn this into a series of Grand Father stories. — ms

  8. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Just think. Precious times with our grandchildren will become their stories 🙂 — ms

  9. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    That bond partially informs who we are today. – ms

  10. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Aren't these wonderful memories, Joy? – ms

  11. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Over the Hump Day with our Grand Father's help! – ms

  12. Yes yes, more Grandfather stories, please. Are you still in possession of the letters?

  13. Memory: It's June of 1954. I'm 5 years old, traveling the pine barrens of South Jersey with my salesman grandfather while my mother is recovering from giving birth to my brother in Philadelphia. I've been farmed out for a week. We stop at a roadside tavern and I sit on the stool next to him, puff on his Pall Mall and sip the foam off his beer. When we leave he lets me sit on his lap and steer his car down the narrow two lane. Oh how our experiences differ!


  14. Shinazy Shinazy

    Daniele, You were granddaddy's favorite great-grandchild; like Malati, yours was a special bond. FYI: I have stacks of 1930 – 1960s letters from granddaddy and auntie Caroline (granddadday's sister)to grandmama. We should read them together.

  15. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Will– Now that's a story! – ms

    Readers — Will Jones is one of MY favorite blog writers. – ms

    His post today was inspired by reading one of my earlier BOBB stories "A Room of My Own."

    To read Will's blog:


  16. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Daniele – This story has opened my memory to so many wonder stories about Grand Father and me. I promise to write more. – ms

  17. Shinazy Shinazy

    BOBB Readers,

    Here at BOBB we enjoy all stories, so I'm on my way to Will's blog 'Every Day People Will Jones'


  18. Thanks Kiddo! I too was stuck to my grandpa like glue! My grandparents raised us ( three of us). Grandpa taught me everything he could from working on cars to raising chickens and rabbits to always tackling the worst job first! I miss my grandma and him everyday. I mostly miss hearing him tell stories of "the time Pammy helped me…"