Grandad and Maps and Shoelaces

July 13th was my paternal grandfather’s 136th birthday.  He died while I was still a child.  My memories of him involve paper road maps and knots in shoelaces.

Google has long since replaced paper road maps, but we did not have Google when I was a kid.  People used large maps that folded up.  I used to like opening the maps and looking at them as if I knew what I was doing.  Of course, I had no clue what I was looking at other than pretty colors and intricate designs.

I could never fold the maps back into their original form.  As hard as I tried, I could never get it.

I would bring the map to my grandfather and say, “Grandad, I tried to fold this, and I can’t get it.”

Grandad would smile, and then take the map and have it folded correctly within seconds.

“Thanks, Grandad,” I would say.

Grandad tried to show me how to fold the maps, but I could never get it.

It was the same with my shoelaces.  I could tie my laces, but often I would tie them in a knot that I could not untie.

“Grandad, I can’t get this knot untied.”

Grandad would smile, and then untie the knot in seconds.

“Thanks, Grandad,” I would say as I walked away.

Over the years, folding maps and untying knots were no longer issues.  But I encountered other seemingly unsolvable problems.  When that happened, I would think, “Grandad, I can’t get this.”  At some point, whether a sudden flash of insight or after a good night’s sleep, the solution would come.

“Thanks, Grandad.”


Ferdinand Johnston






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I am Minnie and Chic's son.