Saturday, November 6, 2004

We Call Him Papa

My grandfather, Frank 'Buster' Redfield died Sunday 31 Oct at 11:00 a.m.

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he fathered a family of artists
who knew the value of labor
the efficiency of expression
if it is unclear, rephrase it
if it is unusable, remove it
if it is imperfect, rework it
until it is as much a part of you
as a limb
he never said this
but he implied it

his stone eyes
edited lies from our speech
before we could speak them
his hands held me tight once
after I sinned
they held me soft
when my father translated himself
into a mythology
I've since ceased believing in
his hands were the tools
with which he spoke through his silence

he carved and crafted rifles
like Stradivarius made violins
and the first recoil
was a symphony
compressed to a split second
he brought wood to life
as though generations of forests grew
to make the right grain
the right feel worthy of his talent

he did not build airplanes,
he built aircraft with the precision of a heart surgeon
knowing a loose screw, one misaligned wire
could transform a craft of beauty
into a coffin
and wife like his into a widow
he made no widows
except one

he crafted art that soared like mechanical angels
and made us feel
how he must have felt with Grandma

even in his absence he scares me
because he was so much more
of what a man should be
than the men I see around me
than the man who fathered me

he was sometimes the machine moving me
he was sometimes the monster under my bed
keeping me from going gently into the night
without fighting the darkness
he was sometimes a giant
stretching hands from horizon to horizon
holding down the sun and moon
and dictating their rising

I am convinced that eastern Montana
is so perfectly flat
in fear of him

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

I never heard him say he loved her
not in words
not in a way I could steal
not in a way that the cheap poet in me
could have plagiarized into a stanza
for some mediocre poem unworthy of his memory

I never heard him say he loved her with words
he said it with his eyes
he said it in the stories my mother would tell me
about how he would raise armies and wage wars
just to bring her flowers
he said it with the way he told me
about driving across Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania every weekend
just to see her for two hours between college classes and curfews

he said he loved her
by showing us how good man
should love a woman right

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he is the poet
me, his eldest grandson,
I am just his microphone

Frank Leslie “Buster” Redfield, age 79, passed away from natural causes on Sunday - October 31, 2004 at the Odyssey Hospice Medical Center in Chandler, Arizona. Services are planned for Friday – November 12, 2004 at 2:00 P.M. at the United Methodist Church in Opheim, Montana. Memorial services were held November 8 in Chandler, AZ. Funeral services will be November 12 at 2 pm at the United Methodist Church in Opheim with burial on the family farm. Bell Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Pallbearers are his grandsons Logan, Cole and Chase Redfield, Jeremy and Ryan Thievin, and Zachary Cherry. Honorary pallbearers are Lanny Hanson, Tom Hanson, Larry French, Lowell Hallock, C.D. Markle, and his sons-in-laws Bill Elliott, Hank Sheer, Al Cherry, and Marty Thievin. Memorials may be made to the Opheim United Methodist Church or the Opheim High School Library. He was preceded in death by his parents and one grandson, Lane Redfield.
Frank Leslie (Buster) Redfield, Jr., 79, died October 31 in Chandler, AZ. He was born May 14, 1925 in Glasgow, MT to Mary and Frank Redfield, Sr. and attended school in Glasgow and Opheim. He served in the Navy on the USS Princeton and in the Army during World War II. He married Sylvia Slife on Dec. 6, 1947 in Atlanta, GA. They lived in Montana during 1948 and 1949 where their first child was born and then moved back to Georgia where he served on the Atlanta police force from 1951 until 1956 when they returned to Montana to farm with his father. He loved motorcycles and airplanes and was a spray pilot for many years. Since 1989 Frank and Sylvia have spent winters in Chandler, AZ and summers at home on the farm near Opheim. He was a member of the Opheim Methodist Church, the American Legion, the Masons, the Shriners, and the York Rite Bodies.
Survivors include his wife, Sylvia; three sons, Alan (Laurie) of Pray, MT, Les (Lisa) and Myron (Alice) of Opheim; four daughters, Georgia Sheer (Hank) of Louisville, KY, Lynn Cherry (AI) of Fayettville, NC, Sylvia Elliott (Bill) of Chandler, AZ, and Lisa Thievin (Marty) of Richland; 17 grandchildren, Erin Sheer, Jason and Zachary Cherry, Katie and Jodie Redfield, Chase, Tatum, and Haylee Redfield, Christopher and Nicholas Graham, Jessica, Danielle, and Kristina Elliott, Logan and Cole Redfield, and Jeremy and Ryan Thievin; one sister, Dorothy Fossum of Richland, and many nieces and nephews.

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