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The Hill
by Emily Fridenmaker

The Hill

Much of my childhood was spent way up on a hill, a hill in the middle of the woods.
On this hill there were many things of wonder:
A four wheeler that took me to hidden places way back in the trees,
An ice crusher that gave me small ice with ease,
A dog named Tut that loved to hunt,
And even in the cabinet, a 'few' shotguns.
But what made this hill the most magical of all were not the THINGS residing up there, but a sweet old couple, magenta bridesmaid dresses
an adorable pair.

Grandpa Ralph was a mountain man, in all senses of the word.
He hunted and gardened and, with his binoculars, he watched all of the birds.
He was also an inventor, with no need for store bought things.
He made button loopers, rifle bolts and even his and Grandma's silver wedding rings.
He loved to plant flowers, lilies and honeysuckles,
and you could often see RALPH embossed on his big belt buckle.
He had a love for growing apple trees,
while picking up the apples we often got stung by the bees.
Those apples made the best pies and cider,
it didn't matter that it made our waistlines a little bit wider.
Grandpa was always snapping pictures,
of people and flowers and 'Down on the river.'
"Look at the birdie," he'd say as he snapped the shutter,
taking a picture of me and my brothers.
Music was someting that was dear to his heart,
even though his fingers were stiff with arthritis he could always play his part...
and play it better than anyone else.
Guitar (steel and regular) and the mandolin were a few of his favorite strings,
though he could play a whole bunch of other things.
He usually played hymns, 'Amazing Grace' and 'There is Power',
but every once in a while he'd show off with a pickin' song like 'Wildwood Flower'.
Grandpa seemed tough on the outside, with his worn out overalls and bristley face,
but he was just as soft as that linament paste he used to rub on every ache or pain.
He loved me and my brothers,
and my aunts and my uncles and my many cousins,
and anyone else that happened to walk through their door
and onto that old green porch.
But what Grandpa loved most of all was the Lord, it was hymns he played for a reason you know.
His Bible laid on his cluttery desk, all highlighted and tattered,
a beautiful mess.
He was a man among men, brawny and strong
but there was a person even he relied on daily, the other half of this awesome pair:
my sweet, sweet Grandma.

Grandma Vivian was a housewife,
but that word is not nearly enough to sum up here life.
She lived her life a servant, to God and to others.
From what I can tell, she was an amazing mother.
She would meet us at the door, early in the morning when Mommy would bring me and Tanner on her way to work.
A floury apron aroung her neck, she'd hug us and give us a peck on the cheek.
The house was warm, from the heat from the stove,
though I'd be willing to bet some of it was her radiating love.
She was the most caring, loving woman I ever knew,
I'm thankful that I had her to look to as I grew.
She was the best cook around, anyone would agree.
She'd always have biscuits and gravy for my brothers and me.
She'd sing hymns in the kitchen as she boiled the water
for dumplins or taters...she never was bothered.
Grandma had patience beyond anyone's that I knew,
but with ten kids and 60ish grandkids, nothing else would do.
She was a whiz with a sewing machine,
she made quilts and pillows and hemmed my jeans.
She let me make pillows all of the time
and helped me with the stitches when we got to the end of the line.
She always let me choose which fabric I wanted,
she never told me what she thought I should use.
Grandma played with us all day long,
dress up and school and sometimes baseball.
She made us play-do with different food colorings,
then we'd sculpt up all kinds of crazy things.
She taught me how to spell 'monotonous' one day on the hill,
that's a word I'll never forget how to spell.
When she sang it was low and slow,
out of her chest the words to 'Wadin' Through Deep Waters" would flow.
Grandma loved Jesus more than anything.
If I ever needed prayer I'd give her a ring,
and I'd always feel better almost instantly.
She told me Bible stories of Jonah and David,
and always spoke of God's awesome glory.
I can't put into words the love Grandma had for Jesus,
just like I can't express how much she means to me.

Although Grandma and Grandpa have both moved on,
and are now praising God with their Heavenly song,
their memories and legacy will live on and on.
It's not only me, with tales and stories
of life on that hill with the morning glories,
but seventy family,
all a part of this wonderful tree,
planted and tended to by this sweet pair,
My Grandma and Grandpa--no others compare