Today is the birthday of my maternal great grandfather, Virgil Barmes, who was born in 1902.
I was born in 1964 so I was fortunate to know Grandpa Virgil for seven years before he passed away in September, 1971. I recall little as I was not around him as much as my other great-grandfather, Garrett Clary who lived six blocks away.
What I do recall was a man who loved to laugh a lot, and a man who prided himself in being the master of some of the best, cleverest practical jokes, most of which could be a single blog entry, each.
One thing I do remember is the glint he would get in his eyes when the people around him were laughing. Mostly, he had made them laugh. To me, that is a gift! Grandpa Virgil had that gift.
As a very young child for several Christmases, I would approach my Grandma Donna’s nativity scene and identify all the main characters. “Baby Jesus. Mother Mary. Grandpa Virgil.”
The Joseph figurine had slightly red hair and the family believed that’s why I renamed him Virgil. However, Grandpa Virgil’s hair had been white since my arrival; I never knew him as anything but white haired. Besides, his son, my Grandpa Leroy was red headed and called “Red.”
“Silent Night” answered that question. “Round young Virgil, mother and child” were the words the family heard me belting out.
Still, today, in my 52 year nativity scene that Mother gave me when I was five, the Joseph figurine is called “Virgil.”
Happy birthday, Grandpa Virgil. I wish I could have known you longer on this side of life, but I shall always be grateful how you showed your world of family and friends how to make it a great day with laughter! Continue to rest in practical-jokes!