World’s greatest grandpa |

World’s greatest grandpa

April E. Clark
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April in Glenwood

I have been hoping to hear the good news that my 87-year-old grandfather will be coming home from the hospital today. He has spent the last couple of weeks in and out of the care of medical professionals to fight infections. Bud hates being in there.

I don’t blame him.

If my Grandpa “Bud” Albert McAnany could be described in one word, it would be fighter. Not necessarily the sporting version of the term – although he is third generation Irish, so he may have a few fisticuffs under his belt. I mean fighter in the sense of someone who struggles and never gives up in persevering or resisting.

Irish folk have that way about them.

My grandpa was born just a few years before the Great Depression hit. He grew up in the ’30s, not exactly our nation’s proudest time.

I’m putting that lightly.

People went broke. And hungry. Opportunities were scarce to be able to pay for water and electricity or put food on the table. I’m doubtful my generation, and the generations that have followed, will ever know the strife people endured during those times.

My grandpa remembers.

Grandpa McAnany had two brothers and a sister. One brother, Billy, was killed early in life, running out to play with a friend across the street when a car fatally hit him. My great-grandfather Francis McAnany was hit by a trolley and killed in downtown Indianapolis. The story is he looked down at something he saw on the front page of the paper. My great-grandmother Mildred learned of this by a Western Union telegraph.

She never remarried.

My great-grandmother lived out the rest of her years, into her 80s, knowing Francis McAnany was the love of her life. Her three children, and their children, helped take care of her all through her senior years.

I have fond memories of her.

Rumor has it that as a young child, my grandpa had his tonsils out and another procedure too painful to repeat in the same doctor’s visit, without anesthesia. True story. By the time my grandpa was a preteen, he had lost a sibling and a parent and was the male influence in the household.

Fighter would be a good word for that.

As soon as he could sign up, Bud enrolled to serve in World War II. He proudly joined the Navy and was deployed to the Pacific. He was there during the atomic bomb drop. He survived exposure to the radiation that would follow. He wrestled through the loss of my grandmother, Betty, at an early age from cancer.

Somehow he came out of it all with that Irish sense of kick-me-in-the-gut humor.

I love my gramps. It’s one of those sentences I don’t say enough. I remember as a small child playing in his old T-Bird and his tall rubber fire boots. He was a volunteer fireman for more than 50 years. Bud was also an arson detective. He can pretty much figure out how someone set a fire before they even set it.

I’ve always thought my grandpa to be brave.

There is a story about him volunteering to fight a forest fire in southern Indiana, when I believe he should’ve been enjoying retirement down in sunny Florida. The fire was coming up on him in the Hoosier National Forest when he slid down into a ravine to escape the flames. True story.

I’m starting to think Bud was the original Most Interesting Man in the World.

My grandpa has been a school bus driver for Indiana high school sports teams. He even dabbled in politics. He was a truck driver in the 1970s, which awards him some kind of presidential honor based on the 8-track tape assortment alone.

And the hats and belt buckles.

Grandpa was actually a truck driver for many years before, and after, the 1970s. But based on what I know of “Smokey and the Bandit,” black Pontiac Firebirds with T-Tops, and Jerry Reed, there couldn’t have been anything better than being eastbound and down in the 1970s. Except maybe being a firefighter. Or a World War II vet.

And a grandpa.

– April E. Clark is sending healing thoughts eastbound and down. She can be reached at

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