smells like "butch cassidy and the sundance kid"
Originally uploaded by a boot.
He was born when the world looked like this, one of many children--all boys, except one sister who died in childhood.
At a young age, he was sent to live with his grandmother.
His grandmother, whose name was Mary Ann, spoiled him, allowing him to graduate from high school when other children of immigrants were forced to take a job in the local factories at fourteen or fifteen.
He really only wanted to stay in school so he could play baseball.
His confirmation name was Aloysius--a choice urged on him by an aunt. For the rest of his life, he would consider it one of his darkest secrets.
He courted a girl named Nellie Byrnes from a neighboring town by letters. All of them were signed, "Yours Truly, John Heney," because "you never want to put anything personal in writing."
He was a fitness enthusiast, decades before such a term existed. He ran, walked, believed in daily deep breathing, and kept it up for a lifetime.
At ninety-six, he was still walking six miles a day.
He always stood up straight.
He knew a "son of a bitch" when he saw one, but never lost much time talking about them or thinking about them.
When their families no longer needed their help, John and Nellie married. They were twenty-eight.
A first child died of diptheria at age five. For the rest of his life, John would carry a faded thumbnail photograph in his wallet. "He was a fine boy, too,"
John would say tucking the picture back in its spot.
He lived through the Great Depression, two world wars, devastating personal loss, but he was grateful for everything that was good in his life: "a wife who woke up singing in the morning, the best kids on earth, a job I was happy to go to every day."
At ninety-nine, he said he would like to live the whole thing over again.
He gave each of his many grandchildren two dollars for every birthday and on Christmas.
No one was allowed to call him "Grandpa," because that was for old people.
When a granddaughter got her license, he wrote her a letter on bank stationery, cautioning her never to drive faster than 35 miles an hour. "They'll wait for you," he said.
At his funeral, his daughters said that they could still remember the feeling of being held on his lap when they were very small.
He was my grandfather and November 9th was his birthday.