My father’s father

James P Holland begat John Hartley Holland, who spawned James Obadiah Holland, who then sired Charles Samuel Joseph Holland, who in turn made my grandpa, Charles Neal Holland, which in turn created my dad, Ricky Neal Holland, who can be held responsible for my existence, and therefore, this run-on sentence. This father’s Day I thought I might mention my grandpa, since he was the guy responsible for giving me the greatest dad in the world.

My grandpa was a very talented and hardworking man. He was resourceful, and made sure the bills were paid, and was a very reliable man. When his health forced him to retire, he found a new career as a successful painter. He smoked for so many years and damaged his heart horribly before he changed his chimneystack ways. I see his paintings hung in homes all over the area, and I’m proud to have an original that he was able to give me personally before he passed away. I always look for the little bumblebee he hid in a lot of his paintings, and point them out to owners of his prints that never noticed it before. I was always fascinated by his paintings, from the minutiae of each brushstroke, to the fancy easel he used, to the tubes of oil he had stacked to the side. I would spend hours pouring over his work, soaking in the technique and dedication to craft displayed. Those skills didn’t just pass to me, but seemed to pass to all of the grandchildren. Hollands rock at Pictionary and Draw Something! as a result.

He always reminded me of Clark Gable, while my dad looked more like Harrison Ford. It’s pretty obvious from his complexion and dark eyes that he had a lot of Cherokee blood in him. My grandmother could bring the silliness out of him, stern and stoic as he seemed. As he got older, he definitely mellowed out, and started dressing like a clown with my grandma to entertain and bring laughs to people. Smiles are the greatest gift one can give (cashier’s checks are a close second), and he brought me many. Smiles, that is.

We lost him four years ago as he was trying to clean debris from the yard after a legendary windstorm tore the trees apart. One limb even harpooned straight through the kitchen ceiling. Afterwards, a truck of Mennonites arrived unbidden and cleared the yard and repaired the kitchen for my grieving grandma. Which only makes sense, because that’s what he would have done. He was a good man, a great father, and an inspirational grandpa. He was a romantic, a renaissance man, and a provider. But best of all, he passed on his talents and virtues to my dad/my mentor/my hero. I can never thank him enough for that.

Some might say his heart gave out after all of the years. But when I see the way my grandma’s eyes light up when she speaks of their 58 years together, I know better. His body may have quit, but his heart will never stop beating for her.