I doubt that Charles ever whimpered, held up a sign for help or demanded anyone take care of him. The thoughts never crossed his mind.
Born “Kazimir” in Plunges, Russia, “Chas” Charles was 19 years old when he “renounced forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty and particularity to Nicholas II Emperor of All The Russia's of whom I am now subject,” left Mother Russia, boarded the MV Vera in Bremen, Germany, bound for Baltimore, Maryland. He was a machinist laborer headed for Chicago, Illinois. He came though the front door declaring his intention to become a citizen of the United States.
Charles met Rose in Chicago, further migrated to the west coast, bought land, built a house and farm, had three children and was my grandfather.
My grandparents never ever pointed a finger at me and said you better do this or you better do that. Never any kind of mandate or imposed lesson for this youngster. Never did for me what I should/could do for myself.
Upon our weekend arrivals at the farm, I was sent to my chores before I could play. Gather cream from the milk house over the stream. Fill the wood box at the top of the stairs. Shovel cow manure from the troughs at the milking stations. Then push it all outside the barn to the manure pile. Finish the job with a water hose washing down all the stalls. Pitch hay for the afternoon milking and gather/wash garden vegetables according to grandma. My times on the farm growing up were life lessons. I did not know that at the time and no one took the time to tell me that all I was doing would pay dividends for the rest of my life. Hard work, take care of yourself, be responsible, be free. Cornerstones of my life.
I took to the chores because I was outside working like everyone else. The land was large, the river full of salmon and river banks for fishing. Logs escaping from the mill down river came by with riding tides. They were captured, pulled ashore for firewood and cedar blocks for making shakes for barn roofs.
My grandfather could build anything. He was a master blacksmith. He made shoes for his children, built the wagons and barns needed for the farm. Built and installed all the fencing, butchered all the beef, fertilized and planted all the fields for yield. He started at daylight, took a nap after lunch and worked till dark. What he could not do himself, he bartered local labor from younger men for meager wages plus food to take home to feed their families. He went to their land to help with harvest or repair equipment. On special Saturday nights, the local families would put together a dance with local homemade food and special apple cider.
The land provided but it required a lifetime of work. Charles built his life and wrote his history in America. He was free to do so.
I continue to stand in his shadow.