Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snapshots of Grandpa

Some called him Bob, Robert, Grandpa, Daddy, GGP, or grandpa tic-tac, but whatever you called him just don't call him late for dinner.

My grandfather passed away on Friday.  Now both of the men who played a great role in who I am today, are no longer walking among us.

I am told that there will be a time at the funeral to tell quirky stories and let others know how much this great man meant to us all.   But really if we all didn't know what a great person he was why would we be at his funeral?  And really what can you say about a man who was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle, a grandfather, a county assessor,  grange member/officer, 4-H member/leader, square dancer/caller, wheat farmer, a singer, and was also probably his hometowns first cross-dresser in 1942 when he played a women in a town play.  He was also the kind of father who bought back his child's 4-h animal at the fair because she had gotten too attached to it. 

So instead of standing up at his funeral (something I don't think I'm capable of doing anyway), I'm choosing to use this as my podium.

The memories of my grandfather basically are in two categories.  Category 1 is all about motion and they begin with riding on the lawn mower with my grandfather.  My brother was older than I was and as I rode along on grandpa's lap, he was able to bump along on the mower by himself but I have no doubt that he too started by riding on grandpa's lap first.  The next several snap shots in my memory album make up an inside memory, and more specifically in the utility room of my grandparents house where my grandpa taught me to dance and to learn to do singing calls for square dancing.  My grandfather basically broke all the rules by getting the local club to allow us kids to get to take square dance lessons at the age of 12 and began to teach me to call as well.  His philosophy was that his generation danced at an early age and every generation should be taught to interact with adults and we should all treat one another with respect and dignity.  I remember goofing off once at a dance and my grandfather explaining all of this to me, very gently but it made an impression.  Being twirled around in a pretty dress by my grandpa always made me feel special and I should act accordingly.  My next set of memories are both inside and outside but still involve movement, as my grandparents were the first ones to help me explore the United States.  Thanks to my grandpa I have hiked through the hills of Glacier National Park, and explored many others parks as well,  their atlas bears my marks to prove where he had been.  My grandparents took my mom, my cousin, and myself cross country enabling me to see sights that I never would have seen otherwise.  My grandpa had a love for traveling the road less traveled  which taught me that you see more  and  learn more of the country by traveling the minor highways but also taught me to make sure you are well prepared because if your motor-home breaks down it could be a long wait before someone happens by to help you out. 

The next set of memories comes from sitting with my grandpa.  My grandpa taught me to play cribbage.  A game that helped me at a time when I was struggling with math.  I'm not sure if he really knew that I was struggling in math or whether he just needed another partner but either way it is a game I thoroughly enjoyed and love playing best with him.  He was great to play games and could  be found after family dinners with the "boys" playing pinochle a game I just don't understand.  As he got older his group of friends would gather at the dinning room table in the evenings to play cards or dominoes and if I happened to be visiting I was always included.

Whether in motion or not, my grandpa had a great sense of humor and a wonderful laugh.  He loved his family.  Even his grandkids and great-grandkids when they were being silly and sitting in his chair waiting for him to come and try to sit on them.  My grandfather lived a full and wonderful life.  He never talked down to me, he always encouraged me, and always welcomed a visit no matter for how long it could be.

I will miss my grandpa but the snapshots in my mind, of a man who was everything to his family will remain clear and crisp to be passed on to my children's children and hopefully beyond along with the lessons that he taught us all about respecting one another and doing the things you love to do.

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