Five years ago we lost a great man: my grandpa. I wrote this the evening that we found out he passed away and I found it appropriate to post it here as I have been thinking about him a lot lately:
Memories of Grandpa
The last week has been one of remembering, little things will happen and trigger a thought, beautiful memory.
I was remembering how, as a child, there was always a hot cocoa jar. I don’t know where they got the hot cocoa but on cold winter days we would always have some after playing in the snow. It was “different” hot cocoa, probably because it was at Grandpa and Grandma’s. It was always there and Grandpa was always willing to make it for us.
Fishing. It was what Grandpa did all summer and when we would visit, we would go fish. I remember learning how to put a bobber on the line, how to put a minnow on (he used mostly minnows) and then catching the fish: sunfish, blue gills and crappies. It was SO exciting catching those little fish and we would always take them along. I’m sure they were too small for anything but Grandpa made sure we took them along, no matter what.
Grandpa always had heart issues and had lots of surgeries: open hearts, bypasses, etc. I remember a specific time we were up there visiting after one of his surgery’s. We went for a walk and it was so special, just me and Grandpa. I don’t remember what we talked about or how far we went but it was a special time for me. Those one on one moments with him.
And Grandpa LOVED his garden. Not just the veggies he grew but especially the flowers. He made his own flower boxes to set in the front yard, always had a little flower bed around the birdbath and had other flowers everywhere in the yard. He took time picking the flowers: petunias, marigold, zinnias, etc. and made sure that they were colorful. He would spend so much time in the garden weeding it and making the plants grow to their best. Grandpa was always a farmer at heart and carried his love for growing into his garden in town. He also did a lot of woodworking, making vases, flower boxes and toy animals. I remember helping him by painting some of the things he made. We would spend time in the basement painting and cutting things out of wood.
The one thing that was always close to his heart was his love of this country. Grandpa fought in WWII, one of the brave Army souls that marched across Europe and lived in foxholes. I always knew that Grandpa had been in the Army and served in the war because he went to a lot of Army reunions and kept in touch with his Army buddies but it wasn’t until I was in college that I really knew what Grandpa had done. That’s when I learned that Grandpa had seen some horrible things in Europe. He helped liberate both Dachau and Auschwitz and had seen what the Nazi army had done to the Jews. He lived with the horrors he had seen and didn’t talk about them for decades. He told us stories of friends dying for their country, of nearly freezing their feet and hands off and then telling stories about the people he met along the way, like the German family who took him in for a Christmas. He still kept in touch with that family, all these years later. Grandpa was a proud Army soldier and was a part of the Turtle Lake Legion from the time he returned from war until his dying day. What he did for our country was of utmost importance to him and I’m proud of his dedication.
And Grandpa loved his family. He loved his kids, his grandkids and the time he got to spend with them. He loved visiting his kids that were spread throughout the US, seeing the different areas. Time he could spend telling stories, playing games or just being with them were cherished by him…and by me. I was just telling Dad that Grandpa was down here six years ago for Christmas, it was the Christmas before I moved. I remember taking the trip to Gateway and his amazement at the geography and then his disappointment of the little town of Gateway (this was before Gateway Canyons was built). I remember him telling stories, stories I had probably heard a million times before…but I listened. Each word was important, because it was Grandpa.
And now he is gone. He has no more pain, will no longer have a weak heart and has his final wish of being with Grandma, who was the love of his life. We are happy because he no longer has pain but mourn because he is no longer with us. I miss you Grandpa and love you…