Grandpa Draper

My namesake was Richard Homer Draper.  He was born and raised in Alabama.  He was 6’6″ and thick; no belly, but monstrous in size.  He had a voice like James Earl Jones and the world stopped to listen when he spoke, which was not often.

Grandpa Draper raised his family during the Great Depression.  They had a cow named Betty Jane who gave them milk and when times became particularly rough, Betty Jane made the transition from a pen to the refrigerator.  I have a picture of my father bottle feeding Betty Jane, the calf.

His house was small, but simple, and immaculately clean.  My grandmother never saw north of 100 pounds but could out eat any man I ever saw.  She apparently had Alzheimer’s because I never recall having a conversation with her, and I do remember her sitting in the kitchen just staring off into space.  In her day, she wrote newspaper opinion pieces.  She was all over President Wilson.  On my bucket list is researching her columns and getting to know her better.

Grandpa was devoted to my grandmother.  She loved vanilla ice cream.  I must have been three or four years-old and clearly remember his giant hand holding mine, helping me down the back steps and across the yard to the alley.  We then walked past four houses and turned left.  We crossed one street and then at the next intersection across the street was the neighborhood grocery store.  There, Grandpa purchased vanilla ice cream and a six pack of Dad’s Old-Fashioned root beer.  I don’t remember the trip back, but I can remember the sounds and smells, the breeze, and the strength I sensed in my grandfather’s hand.  I felt safe and quite satisfied because I was with him.

During the Great Depression, he worked for the railroad and then a machine shop.  He fashioned an anvil out of a piece of railroad rail.  It is in my shop this very day.  It will never wear out and someday, in a hundred years, I hope whoever owns it will remember its significance and something about the man who made it.  Grandpa Draper had a simple, but long-lasting legacy.

Richard E. Draper, a double board-certified emergency medicine physician, blogger, and speaker, and practices in the Kaleidoscope Weekly distribution area. The Healer’s Heart is based on his perceptions and observations of his experiences in the ER over his career. Any similarities to actual patients are purely coincidental.

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