Grandma and Grandpa Becker were people of action rather than words. Not that they didn’t have much to say. They just chose their words well and needed only a few to convey much.
As their oldest grandson, I visited them during the summer when I was growing up in the late ’50s. I always talked Grandma into letting me sleep in the screened-in porch on the east side of their home.
Shaded by tall elm trees, this was the coolest place to slumber on those warm summer nights before air conditioning. More importantly, the porch was right next to my grandparents’ room, where I felt safe and slept like a log each night.
Their morning activities always would wake me, and their longest conversations of the day took place while drinking black coffee with bacon and eggs several hours before I crawled out of my comfortable bed. In the background, you always could hear a black Zenith AM radio providing them with the news and weather of the upcoming day.
I’d just lie there comfortably in my bed soaking up the sounds. I knew Grandma would make me my own special breakfast at a more kid-visiting-his-grandparents hour.
My Grandpa Bert was a tall slender man with kind eyes and a rich baritone voice that invited attention and respect. During those early-morning conversations with my Grandma Rose, he spoke with a gentleness that was unlike any other.
While I didn’t really think of it back then, I just remember I loved listening to them visit and appreciated how my Grandpa talked to my Grandma.
Today, I understand what I was listening to were conversations between a woman and a man who had truly become one.
Grandpa always respected and took care of Grandma’s every need. She cheerfully and willingly gave back all that she received.
My Grandpa Bert was a veteran of World War I, saw action in France. He died nearly 25 years before Grandma Rose. His later years were difficult, and he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. I also believe ghosts from those brothers in arms, who didn’t return home with him, weighed heavy on his soul.
Still, I never heard him complain. Grandma and my mother loved and cared for him when he couldn’t do so for himself.
I have always considered myself a lucky man to have inherited some of the wonderful attributes of the Becker family — cheerfulness, perseverance, a willingness to think, work smart — and the ability to enjoy and appreciate others.
Having Becker blood also means you have family and some good friends willing to stand by your side during the best and worst of times. And while your living may be hard-earned — your life will be rich beyond measure.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.