Recently I discovered that my grandfather had written a book and that it was still available on Amazon, so I went ahead and I ordered it. After previewing a few pages, I went ahead and read it to the family. What an amazing joy it has been! It is a great story entitled On His Toes written by Irving T. McDonald (who was my mother’s father) and it is all about a young man who goes to work for one of the first movie production companies of his day. When I realized that this book was published by Dodd, Mead, and Company in 1921, it hit me that this was a first of its kind. The description of the production studios, the property rooms and all the things they used, the demanding but skilled abilities of the director and the actors, the plot involving this young guy trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and his falling in love with the movie-making business, it sure makes for a great read. I always knew that my grandfather was a talented man. He was a radio broadcaster for many years, and he worked in various teaching positions throughout his life, but surprisingly, I knew little about him personally. Reading this book has really helped me to get to know the man behind the name a bit better.
I suppose it is an all too familiar a reality nowadays that we don’t really know the very people who made our lives possible. I recently read my grandmother’s memoirs (which is where I learned about my grandfather’s book) and I discovered that Grandfather almost died during a flu epidemic, but for the kindness of a landlady and the generosity of a doctor, he would have died. My grandfather later married and had six children, one who was my mother. She grew up and married and had six children, one who was me, and I am now the mother of eight children. None of us would exist but for the kindness of those two strangers and my grandfather’s strength of spirit, which enabled him to overcome the dangers of his environment and situation.
As I live and work in my little world, I think about all the people who have made my life possible, and I wonder about their lives and how our lives are intertwined even though we may never meet. I wonder about the people who made the car I am driving in, who designed it and who sold it to us. I wonder about the people who made the roads I drive across and what their lives must have been like as they toiled away on hot summer days bridging rivers and forging through rock across our part of the nation. I wonder about the doctor who brought me into the world, and I wonder about all my relatives who have passed away, giving me the opportunity to live, to share their home, on earth. I carry their genes in my body, they are the blood of my blood, yet I know little more than their names.
Yet, as I read my grandfather’s book, I came to realize that those who have gone before are not really gone, they are just some place not within my present sight. And then I realize that I am the forerunner of all those who will come after me, and I feel amazed at the thought. I am only granted a small portion of time before I too must move on. And I wonder who will remember me, and I wonder what will they wonder about….