Time again to continue the list of a 1,000 gifts…
Each of us has a love for our parents and grandparents. There is just something special that God puts in our hearts for each other ~ fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,parents, grandparents,cousins, even 2nd and 3rd cousin. We’re family. We may not agree on everything, but there is something that binds us together through the generations. My dad died when I was 22, none of my children have known him, but I know they all have a special place for him in their hearts.
My two oldest daughters have a very special relationship with their step-grandfather. They flew out to Maryland early this morning hoping to talk to him one last time…he is a wonderful man…the memories are abundant…his passing overwhelming…
67 Memories of loved ones
68 Tears ~ wash away our grief bit by bit
69 Sailboats ~ Papa was a sailor in every sense of the word. Grew up in the yacht yard, built boats, sailed…As tears fill my eyes I found this article that Sage wrote on her journal…I’ll dedicate this post to Papa and let her tell the story…
Papa by Sage
I am blessed. I have several more grandfathers than “normal”, but a girl can never have too many grandpas, can she??? One of my grandfathers died in a diving accident before I was born, so I have never known him personally, but love him through the stories I have heard and the character I have learned about him. I have one grandfather living in Hawaii… who, sadly, I know very little about beyond the fact that he was a Navy fighter pilot during World War II. One grandfather lives several hours away – he lied about his age and joined the Navy when he was too young to be legitimately accepted. As an officer in the Navy, he served his country during World War II and many years after…he was a pilot and had more adventures than I can imagine. He loves my grandmother very much, and I love the way his eyes twinkle when he laughs. I have another grandfather who lives nearby. He lost his leg while in the army when he was only 19. He never complains. It was he who taught me to water ski and snow ski. His eyes are clear blue, he has an amazing sense of humor and I love to watch him study his Bible. Of all my grandfathers, he is the only one who prays for me…and that means more than I can tell you.
But I really want to introduce you to Papa.
Most people know him as Laurence Hartge…I don’t care how old I get – to me he will always be Papa.
Papa is a sailor. So was his father, and his father’s father. When the Hartges came from Germany they were piano makers. The Civil War changed that, since there weren’t many interested in buying pianos during those years, but boats were always needed. So they built boats. Cap’t Oscar was Papa’s father…one of 11 children. And Cap’t Oscar had 11 children himself. It always intrigues me when we go back to Galesville, Maryland with Papa as he points out his grandparents’ lovely little white house on the shore of West River. There is a huge hydrangea growing outside of the house; it’s been there since I can remember. It’s been there since Papa can remember. I think that bush is the reason I count hydrangeas as one of my most favorite flowers. They remind me of home. We also drive past the big green house that Papa grew up in, and I imagine what it must have been like to have been one of those 11, sailing in the summer, fishing for their supper, ice skating and ice sailing in the winter…rowing to the general store or across the river to visit. Through Papa’s eyes, it was next to heaven. Now, his sister Alma’s house was there, his niece’s house is across the river in Shady Side. Preston’s is there. Aunt Alice lived here and…I was surprised when I learned that there are people in the town who are not and never have been Hartges.
Papa built boats. He designed boats. He sold boats, raced boats, transported boats. Papa loves boats. Now he paints pictures of boats, teaches about boats and writes stories about boats. He walks every day, through the Naval Academy across the street from his house, around downtown Annapolis, along the harbor – noting the white sailed vessels dotting the Chesapeake. Then he checks his inevitable 3×5 card to see what is on the agenda for the day. Could be work on an article for one of the magazines he contributes to. Could be going to make some improvements to the Hartge Nautical Museum that he founded in one of the rooms of his grandparents’ house near the Hartge Yacht Yard, now operated by the third – or is it fourth – generation. Perhaps he’ll start a new painting…a swift yawl racing through white-capped water beneath a stormy gray sky. He always has lots to do, after all, he did just turn 90…not quite as young as he used to be, and still so much to accomplish.
My sister and I just returned from a visit with him to celebrate his birthday. It was a big deal…and a wonderful party. Quite a few people toasted him, and I hope to hold the kind words they said about this marvelous man that I am blessed to call “Papa” with me forever. I already knew he was special, but it was gratifying to see how many other people know that, too. Someone asked me what I remember about growing up with Papa…
We moved a lot when I was young. Big changes happened quickly and permanently. But as we moved several times from the East Coast to Hawaii and several states in between, Mimi and Papa were always there…always steady. Even the furniture in their house stayed in the same place. I always knew just what to expect when I walked into the house on Hanover Street. From the third floor, to Papa’s glorious, mysterious and thrilling basement/workshop/office and all in between…I was home.
As a very little girl, I remember walking to the post office and bank with Papa. We wouldn’t make it down the brick sidewalk past St. John’s College before I was asking to be carried, and Papa would swing me up onto his shoulders, where I had a bird’s eye view of the world around me. Everyone knew Papa – in the bank where they’d give out candy, the old post office near the state house, the hardware store right by Ego Alley. They still do. All I have to do is say that I’m Laurence Hartge’s granddaughter and suddenly I’m somebody.
I remember when a bird was caught in the house, and hurt it’s wing. I took it to Papa, because Papa could fix anything, and we put it in their beautiful white birdcage until it could fly away on it’s own.
I remember cocktails in the garden, followed by the world’s best hamburgers…made by Papa on his little grill. Often they were accompanied by tomatoes he grew in their little fenced-in haven amid the birds and flowers and bushes. He makes wonderful crabcakes, too, and you should just try his fried green tomatoes.
I remember sailing with Mimi and Papa. We would drive to his friend’s house, where he kept a rowboat tied to the sea wall. We’d step in and glide through the water as Papa would stand straight and tall at the back of the skiff and use one oar to scull us out to his boat. I was mystified by the way he could use one oar and loved to watch his strong sureness as he maneuvered right to his sailboat. As we glided through the water, our captain would teach us about the other crafts out on the water, whether they were sloops or ketches or yawls. He would patiently explain the uses of the jib, main and spinnakers, and let us blow the horn to alert the bridge keeper, so that he would open up the bridge and let us sail through. It was an exhilarating moment when Papa would hand the tiller to one of us and let us take turns skippering the boat! Papa was always calm. He told us that the captains who yelled a lot only did that because they weren’t in control. The key was to stay in control, be attentive and try to see what was coming. He could see the wind before it reached us – measuring it’s force and direction by the ripples on the water. The only time he ever even slightly raised his voice was a few years ago on a particularly windy day as white caps were licking the sides of the boat. The jib broke and was flapping wildly in the wind. Papa handed me the tiller and went up to try to fix it. Fighting with the frantic sail, he called back for me to turn into the wind. I turned the wrong way and almost knocked him off the boat. Papa yelled back over the wind, “The other way….the OTHER WAY!!!” I just never could understand that “into the wind” concept.
Papa smoked a pipe. Though he quit years ago, and we are very glad he did, every time I smell that tangy, particular tobacco smoke, it is an instant transport to days long gone, a beloved town far away, and a man who I love very much.
He was a signal man for the Navy during World War II and has been all over the South Pacific. He’s shown us some of the flags and hand signals they used then, and is currently writing down some of his stories, so that we will have them forever.
Papa loves music. It was he who originally asked us to record some hymns that he remembered his mother singing. Did he have any idea, I wonder, where that request would take us, and that ten years later my family would be traveling around playing music together? I wonder…
Papa always makes me feel as if I can do anything. He expects a lot from my sister and me…and somehow, when he asks, we manage to do the task that we thought we couldn’t. I guess it would be called immersion teaching. When he wants us to do something, he doesn’t stand around and talk about it…he gives us the tools we need and tells us to get going…and we do. “See, I knew you could do it!” he always says as we shake our heads and wonder how.
His life has not always been smooth sailing. He lost a son some time ago…does a parent ever truly get over that? Out of the 11 siblings, 3 are still around. I know he misses the others. He has always been used to a very active and adventurous lifestyle. My grandmother had back surgery quite a few years ago. It didn’t help her, and for a long time Papa was caregiver and cook for his wife, who couldn’t get around very well, and suffered much. Those were long, hard years. But Papa inspired me with the love and care that he gave her right up to the end.
Since her death a couple of years ago, he has regained his mobility. He and his cousin traveled cross-country by train, he sailed through the Panama Canal – because he always wanted to – and he is continuing his writing and painting. He loves life and is interested in everything and everyone. One thing that he has told us and modeled for us is this quote he is so fond of…
“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away”
He has influenced my life. He has inspired me by his words and example. He has loved me, even when he didn’t have too…for not once in all my life has he ever made me to even remember that he is not my grandfather by birth-that he actually chose to accept me when I came along a several years after he married my grandmother. So you see, I will always be grateful to be blessed with a grandfather like…
Papa passed away this very night…Sage and Tera were able to see him before he died.