My father was raised from the age of four in a house built by his father in Washington, DC. My grandfather was a printer by trade and a carpenter by hobby. He was born in 1897 and although I never had the opportunity to meet him personally, his legacy is strong. He was a redhead like you, Buddy, and he went by many names; Red, Mike, Curtis, and Noney to his kids; a mispronunciation of ‘Honey’ which was his wife’s name for him.
He was known for his wit and easy way with people. Once when my father misbehaved and knew he would get into trouble, he hid his mother’s switch. His full-blooded Irish mother tore apart the house looking for it. “Just you wait, young man!” Noney came home to the situation and calmly told his wife to wait just a moment; he would take care of everything. He came back from the basement holding a thick log, smiled and said, “Have at him, Dear!” Luckily for my dad they all fell to laughing and he managed to escape both the switch and the log that day.
Noney planted a tree beside the fence in the backyard of that house in DC. He was known to frequent that spot for a cup of coffee or to smoke his pipe. When he died in 1969 – years before my parents were even married – they buried his ashes beneath that tree in his favorite spot.
Even though I never met Noney, even though that house is gone, and even though I’ve never seen that tree – I know that it grows for me. There is a tree in Washington, DC, that grows for me – and it grows for you kids too.