Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Grandpa's Chickens

My grandpa has a lot of sayings (I think that is a prerequisite to becoming a grandfather).  One of my favorites is "I never plan a menu.  I let the stores tell me what I am going to cook.  When they have a sale, I buy the food and that's what we eat."  I might be a little off in the wording but I know I caught the meaning.

He loves to buy food in bulk.  Not as in "I bought 200 hotdogs from Costco" bulk, but when a store--any store within 50 miles-- advertised a great sale price on frozen chickens, he would buy all of them.  20 frozen chickens.  If there was a limit to how many a person could buy, my grandma would stand in line behind him, and they would both buy the maximum limit, and then they would do it again until they had a carload of frozen chickens.

These chickens were put to use right away.  Many families would receive a frozen chicken straight from grandpa's freezer.  If we went for a visit after a recent conquest, he would order me to the freezer to grab a bird to take home.  Many more families received a cooked chicken on a Sunday evening.  Grandpa learned that if he stood the chickens straight up while cooking rather than have them lie flat, he could fit more in his oven.  He would cook several chickens each week, chop them up, wrap them in foil, and deliver them to anyone he felt might need a little extra food.

No one has to ask for food, he just helps.

His service extends beyond the chickens.  Grandpa learned that, when properly planted, tomato plants produce a lot of tomatoes.  He tore up half of his backyard and planted a whole mess of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and any other plants he found on sale.  I lost track of how many times I came home from work to find a tray of vegetables sitting on my porch.  His yearly crops easily reach hundreds of families every year.

No one asked him to plant, he just does.

This reminds me of another saying he has.  While serving an inner-city mission for the church, members of the ward in which he served asked him if he had been a Bishop or Stake President in his previous callings.  My grandpa always replied "I have the best calling in the church, I am a Home Teacher."  The members would chuckle and tell him that everyone is a Home Teacher, but he would add "Yes, but I actually do my home teaching."  In the Mormon church, most every adult is given the responsibility to visit and teach other members of the ward at least once a month, and many members, including myself at times, are lackadaisical in this assignment.  But not grandpa.  In fact, once a month is not nearly enough, and he makes several visits to ensure that all in his care are sound.

Grandpa doesn't care about accolades, payments, or titles.  He cares about people.  It may be hard to see that love through his gruff exterior, but  I have seen it through the food he delivers.

Some people can fake being nice, some people can fake piety, but no one can fake service.  You either do or don't, and Grandpa does.