My Grandpa died 10 days ago at the age of 101.
He went from being a farm boy who drove a plough behind a team of horses to medical school (great grandma mortgaged the farm to pay for it). He returned to Indianola, Iowa after med. school. From his small town medical practice he served his country as a World War II doctor and then came back home again to live for the rest of his days. From Quaker roots, he was always a quiet and dignified man.
Grandpa's memorial service will be in a couple of weeks and we grandkids are supposed to come up with a memory to share. Try as I might, the memory that remains at the top is the story of the rabbit-skunk.
Growing up, when my family would make the 8 hour trip up north to visit Grandma and Grandpa, one thing I looked forward to was how different things were in Indianola, Iowa. This town was the epitome of small town Americana with a square and a local coffee shop stocked with old men drinking coffee and killing time in the middle of the morning. Sidewalks lined every street so we kids could ride the old fashioned bikes we found in the garage all the way past the city park garden to mainstreet to the tennis courts and back home again. But whatever we did, we had to be back in time for dinner!! I can still picture the dining room and the placemats neatly set in place and the fresh flowers beautifully arranged on the table for dinner. The windows might even be open letting the breeze flutter the curtains...completely unheard of in Oklahoma summers.
One evening, after the silent prayer Grandpa always observed before dinner, he announced that he was afraid he had seen a rabbit-skunk in the garden earlier that day and we were all to be very careful to not get too close.
A rabbit-skunk!! Amazing!! We just didn't have rabbit-skunks down in Oklahoma and I very much wanted to see one. I wondered how they looked. I wondered if they sprayed like regular skunks! Did they hop?!?
I can't remember exactly how the devastating news was broken to me that Grandpa had seen what he thought to be a rabid-skunk, and that there really was no such thing as a rabbit-skunk. I just remember the laugh it brought that night and for years following anytime we visited. It was kind of a bond between a quiet and dignified grandpa and his littlest granddaughter.