I was perusing the internet a while back for ideas for shadowbox, and I came across a “grandpa” shadowbox. It contained pictures of someone's grandfather, and the pictures were surrounded by various types of tools. With my paternal grandfather in mind, I thought, “Well, no. That would never work.”

I was perusing the internet a while back for ideas for shadowbox, and I came across a “grandpa” shadowbox. It contained pictures of someone's grandfather, and the pictures were surrounded by various types of tools. With my paternal grandfather in mind, I thought, “Well, no. That would never work.”

My grandpa worked in manual labor all his life, from mechanical work to farming. He even took on a second job at a manufacturing plant when he was in his late 70s. The man knew how to work, and he worked hard. Even into his 80s, I knew when I visited home I would find him tinkering with something out on the farm.

He wore jeans, boots and western shirts with pearl snap buttons – his more worn items for out on the farm and his nicer things for going to town. For special occasions at church, you might find him in a suit (western style, of course, possibly with a bolo tie).

His favorite movies and books were westerns – but only the old ones; he didn't have time for these new ones with all that romance nonsense in them. He loved John Wayne and Louis L'Amour and the Tumbling Tumbleweeds.

When he was just a boy, he carved a bucking horse out of wood and made a little leather saddle for it. He presented this to his favorite uncle, though it now belongs to one of my older brothers.

He had no care for housework, and told me once after my grandmother passed away that he'd just never been trained for it and was a poor housekeeper.

Yes, my grandpa was a man's man.

And yet, that doesn't paint a complete picture of him at all.

You see, my grandfather was also the family's candy maker. His divinity was perfection, but he also enjoyed making jellies, cakes and other confections. When my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he also took on the task of cooking for them both. I don't know if he enjoyed it, but he never complained.

My grandparents kept boxes of photos from their travels, and I remember pouring over those pictures for hours when I would visit. Mixed in with the shots of deer and fish they'd caught, there were always pictures of roses and wildflowers. The reason? My grandfather loved flowers. Sometimes when I would visit home, we would go out for a walk and he would point out some wildflower he was especially fond of and ask me to take a picture for him.

He also taught me to crochet – though the lesson didn't stick very well. He would crochet dish towels, weave lawn chairs, and make doilies. He even embroidered a lovely blanket with roses, and he always said that he impressed my grandmother with how the back side was just as pretty as the front.

So I can't make a shadowbox for my grandfather full of just farming items or tools. It would be like cutting half of him out of the picture.

We talk so often now of “when a man was a man” and how boys now should only do “manly” things. But you know, I don't think men back then worried about that sort of thing as much as we do. My grandpa certainly didn't seem to. I don't think he ever bothered over whether making jelly or crocheting a doily were “manly” things to do. He was a man, and he was doing them, and that was that. In my eyes, it just make him a more well-rounded and impressive human being. I think we could all learn a lesson from my grandpa.