Here is an excerpt from Mama’s book, I Remember, about her mother’s father.
Grandpa Thompson was 5 ft. 6 in. and very slender. My dad used to call him the fiery little Irishman. The only work I ever heard of him doing was horse trading. He prided himself on being pretty good at it, but I have heard my dad laugh about the time Grandpa traded for a horse with a beautiful flowing tail. He brought him home and put him in the barnyard. The next morning, the horse was laying down. Grandpa went out to try to get him up on his feet. When he took hold of the tail to help him up, the tail pulled off. It was a false tail. The real tail was short and not very pretty. That greatly decreased the value of the horse.
Grandpa was also a fiddler. He played for square dances. When Mom and her sister were small, Grandma loved to go to the dances with Grandpa. She would put the kids to bed on a bench and then dance all night long.
Grandpa had strange spells near the end of his life when he was living with us. They said he had hardening of the arteries. One time he thought someone was trying to kill him. The people across the street were moving and had some big wooden crates sitting in their yard. Grandpa pulled all the window shades and said, “They aren’t going to put me in one of those boxes!”
One day I guess he thought he was Christ. He sent Mom out to buy some wine. Then he had all of us sit around the dining room table (except Dad was at work) and he broke the bread and served the wine just like Christ did at the last supper.
One time my older brother Gene brought home a deck of cards he had found. When he said, “Look Grandpa what I found.” Grandpa said, “Let me see.” Then he opened the heating stove door and threw the cards in the fire. He told Gene, “Cards are an instrument of the devil.” Gene was very upset.
When Grandpa was in bed with his last illness, he called me into his room. I was five years old at the time. He told me to look under his bed. He said the devil was under there and had come to try to take him away. I looked and looked but couldn’t see a thing. Then he said, “The devil can’t get to me though because there are angels sitting on the foot of my bed to keep him away.” Of course, I couldn’t see the angels either, but I believe he did. He died that night. He was 55 years old.
There is one more story about Grandpa Thompson that Mama loved to tell, but I can’t find it in her book, so I’ll just tell it as I remember her telling it:
The next year after Grandpa Thompson had died (when Mama would have been 6 years old), her family was visiting another family and all the children were playing hide and seek in the upstairs. The person who was “it” was counting and Mama was hurrying to find a place to hide. She opened a door and saw an empty, dark room — a perfect place to hide. But when she started to run in there she suddenly saw Grandpa Thompson standing in the room and he was motioning her back. She stopped in her tracks, too surprised to move. Then she slammed the door and ran downstairs to tell her mom that Grandpa Thompson was upstairs! Of course the adults all rushed upstairs to see what had caused Mama to think she had seen her Grandpa. And, of course, they didn’t find Grandpa. But when Mama showed them where she had seen him, they said that that was the unfinished part of the attic and if she had run in there, she would have fallen through the ceiling.
This story has always particularly fascinated me because it was such a dear memory for Mama. She always said that her grandpa had come back that one last time to save her from falling through that ceiling.