Monday, March 2, 2009
I have been struggling for about a week about what to write about the passing of my Grandfather. I had been gathering notes and thoughts for some time. I began over a month ago when it first appeared that his mounting health ailments would be the kind from which you don't "get better".
I kept taking out the pad and looking at it. To anyone else, the words on the page would mean nothing. Each line had just one or two words to remind me of some memory tied to my Grandfather. As the list grew, I drew on memories I cherish but think about infrequently. So this process is one more thing to thank him for.
As I dawdled, one of my cousins beat me to it and posted her own list. She had many things I had not thought of for a very long time (like the storage closet underneath the stairs at the old house where they kept the preserves and "sody pop"). I still want to post my list because making the list was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Because I am older, I have memories that predate some of my cousins. I hope others will enjoy my list as much as I did hers:
*Please note.....some of these memories date back almost 40 years. If I have a details wrong, it is just passage of time making things hazy. Even if the details are wrong, the feelings are genuine.
"Helping" him clean the pool at the resort: (probably my first real memory of him). I don't remember a lot about the resort, but this is the earliest I can remember. The memories are hazy, but I remember the cabins, the pool, fishing and playing horse shoes.
"Dressy or Sporty?": It is possible this memory predates the resort, but I am not sure. I remember this running gag between my Grandfather and I dating back to when he and Grandma came to visit us about the time Laura was born. I would have been about 4, and we were going to go to church. I am not sure how it started, but "dressy" meant we wore a tie, and "sporty" meant no tie. For years when we got ready to go somewhere together, I would ask him "dressy or sporty". That also might be the trip where we spotted a mountain lion out our back window. Mom has a picture of Grandpa and me looking through binoculars together.
His pet poodle: I never understood why he never got another dog. He claimed he did not really like dogs, but he adored Snoopy.
The House on DD: I don't know what you call that color, but there was no other house painted that color I have ever seen. Coming around that corner and seeing that house on the hill was always exciting when I was a kid. Many of my memories of Grandpa are tied to that house. The pool table, the grandfather clock, the carpet. I even remember how it smelled. I remember going to "the park" and playing croquet, and doing sparklers and bottle rockets. I also remember how proud I was that grandpa let me mow the yard on his riding mower. I knew that him letting me do it meant he trusted me, and I knew that was something he did not give lightly.
The Sun Room: I remember the house before and after the Sun Room. I remember him talking about it, planning it, building it and decorating it. I remember the furniture, and the wood burning stove. My biggest memory of the sun room was a sad looking ceramic dog he named "Samson". We were with him when he bought it, and as I recall we had to go back to the store to get it because he regretted not getting it the first time we saw it. You will all be happy to know that Samson is still alive and as hungry looking as ever at my parents' house in Lawton. I hope to inherit Samson someday.....so back off Laura!
Visits From Grandma & Grandpa: We rarely lived close to my Grandparents when I was growing up. Their visits, whether for Christmas or other time of the year were always special. Of special note was the year they spent with us in Georgia during my senior year of high school while my Dad was in Korea. They brought their trailer and lived across town, but they were always close by and I got to know them both very well that year. They were very active while they were there. They took dance lessons, came to many of my ballgames and attended my graduation. They even learned to golf, and Grandpa and I played quite a bit together.
The Cars and Trailers: I remember the old blue pickup, the Volkswagen Rabbit he was so excited about (it took diesel fuel!), the trailer at the ranch, and the trailer they used to pull around the country. Grandpa loved to travel and I am sure much of my love of travel comes from stories of his trips.
Grandpa's Fashions: My main memory of him is in some kind of shirt with a collar......even with shorts. I did see him in white T shirts when he was working outside. Oh...and the socks. Dark socks with sandals at the ranch. Although it was far from typical, my personal favorite was the year he came home from Quartzite Arizona sporting a pair of really loud pair of casual pants he bought at the market there....much like pajama bottoms. I seem to recall them being black and hot pink. Another favorite was the white patent leather shoes and blue suit he wore to our wedding. He looked sharp!
The Cloud Nine Ranch: i loved the ranch. I even chose it as the place to propose to Tracy. Later on the Ranch became a special place for Whitney and my Mom to spend some summer vacation time. By doing so, she was able to develop her own special ties to Grandpa, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Michelle. As she used to say: "it is like I have 3 Grandmas there!"
The Paintings: When people come to our house, they always ask who painted the pictures. I always tell them with pride that the artist was my Grandfather. I always smile at this because grandpa always insisted he was not good enough to be called an "artist"...."I am a painter", he would say. Whatever, Grandpa. His paintings have always, and will always, have a place in my home.
Food: Grandpa and I found common ground in food and recipes. After I got married, we exchanged many recipes and cooked together. To this day, two of our most asked for recipes from our friends are Grandpa's salsa and guacamole recipes.
Family Gatherings: The biggest thing I remember about Grandpa is that for all his occasional gruffness, no man loved his family more than he did. I remember family gatherings at the house fondly. I also remember both their 45th and 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Wamego and the way the loved each other even as they teased one another about whether Grandma would say "yes" this time. I remember thinking that was what I wanted in a marriage.
Dancing With Whitney: My lasting image of him is dancing with Whitney at Janet and Angela's wedding. It is a moment that is very special to me. I knew how much he loved dancing and that he and Grandma had taken lessons together. It was wonderful watching him dance with Whitney as I had seen him dance with my Grandmother.
These are just some of the things i remember. I am sorry it was so long, but I wanted to do him justice. I hope he and Grandma understood what a legacy they had left behind.