Sunday, March 3, 2013

Every Kid Needs a Mr. Walker

Maxine (my mother), Marge (my aunt), Nana (grandmother),
Linda (sister), Papa (grandfather), and me sitting. 
Every kid needs a 'Mr. Walker.' Some kids are lucky and live close to their grandparents. I lived over 300 miles from my maternal grandparents and never knew my father's parents because they had died before I was born. Mr. Walker became my 'grandpa'. In fact, he asked me to call him grandpa...but I never did. I felt I would be disloyal my real grandpa (who was a great Papa)...even though he would never have known. Now I wish I had called him grandpa. I can't find a picture of Mr. Walker, so here is one of me with my grandparents.

We rented our old farm house from Mr. Walker while our house was being built. I loved that house. I was only four when we moved there, but I remember so much about it...the spiders that would come up from the bathtub drain and scare my mom....there was a barn full of exciting adventures...I had a special 'spider garden' where I could observe all sorts of spiders (yes, I liked spiders)...the cows that would break through the fence and come up on our porch...and my mom would have to use the old crank wall phone to call Mr. Walker. He would come down and round up the cows and then stay for some coffee.

Mr. Walker lived down the road and I could walk there when I got old enough to cross the street. He'd wait for me and then we'd work in his garden. It was there I learned how to plant potatoes, corn, beans, and various other garden vegetables. He taught me to be patient for the harvest because I wanted to dig up the potato plants to see how many potatoes were produced and how big they would be. He'd find other jobs for me, like weeding and feeding the cows. He also had a big tree swing where I would try to swing high enough to kick the limbs of the old maple. I liked running through his grape arbor, sometimes just sitting inside watching the bees and butterflies at work.

Mr. Walker and I had a disagreement one day. My sister tells me that as a child...and even now I tend to anthropomorphize everything. I remember watching Mr. Walker pulling out corn plants. He told me that he pulled the weaker ones so the stronger plants could have more nutrients. But NO! How could he do that... he was killing all those poor corn plants....what were they feeling as they were plucked and tossed to the ground! I gathered each limp corn plant and told him I would plant them at my house. "They won't bear corn." he said. "But go ahead."

This was a challenge I could not ignore. My sister and I picked a sunny place on our back hill next to an old shed that once housed pigs and planted them. Mr. Walker told my dad about the corn and chuckled and hoped I would not be disappointed. Imagine the pride my father felt when he took a peck of corn to Mr. Walker's...from the poor little plants that he had discarded. Mr. Walker told that story to lots of people...with a twinkle in his eyes. I think he was proud too.

There is so much more to say about Mr. Walker, but it would take many pages. But one last thing...we shared the same birthday! Isn't that cool!

Yes, every kid needs a Mr. Walker. Someone to help dig up the potatoes and carrots...someone to teach you when and how to get sap out of the maples and then make syrup...( much sap for such a small amount of syrup!)...someone to nurture the seeds of curiosity, creativity and adventure.

Yes, every kid needs a Mr. Walker. Thanks, Mr. Walker, for being my grandpa when mine lived so far away.


  1. What a great post. I'm sure that Mr Walker wished everyone had an "adopted grandkid" just like you too!

  2. Love this. I have a Mr. walker!!! She's a huge part of my life!!!

  3. Love the voice you write in your piece. I can see your proud young face when the corn grew, and the twinkle in the eye of Mr. Walker. He would be proud of this post.

  4. How lucky you are to have Mr. Walker and how lucky he is to have you. Thank you for sharing this writing with us. And thank you for your kind comments about my blog entry today. I am learning about blogging and this has been a great boost.

  5. What a perfect beginning and ending to match! I wish more kids could have a Mr. Walker in their life. I was so hoping your corn would grow. He taught you so many things. What a blessing for you and for him.

  6. Your story reminded about a quote that my colleague has on her door: The grass isn't always greener on the other side; it's greener where you water it.

  7. Jackie,
    I enjoyed your story of Mr. Walker. Somehow I'm not surprised that you managed to get a little corn from those discarded plants. You are right, everyone needs a Mr. Walker. Like Deborah, I couldn't help but wonder what Mr. Walker would say about you if this were his story. I have a feeling he enjoyed the time as much as you did.