My Grandpa died early Thursday morning. Since then I haven't been able to really put into words how I feel. And I probably won't be able to now, but I am gonna give it a try.
Sometimes in life you get to know people who change you forever, in the best way possible. Grandpa was one of those people. For the first 12 years of my life I lived 2 miles away from the big farm where Grandpa & Grandma lived.
He had this name that all of us grandkids had to call him whenever we wanted something. It was along the lines of “dear, kind, elderly gentleman”. There was more to it but I can’t remember it all.
Even though he and Grandma kept a drawer full of candy and a bucket full of red licorice, he was careful to not let us kids eat too much. One time when I was like 5, he made me save a piece of the licorice to eat later when I had grabbed three at the same time.
He drove a Kawasaki Mule around the farm, and let us kids ride with him. I remember sitting on the wheel well and holding onto the roll bar as we headed down the lane to get the mail, or as we drove down through the poplar patch to do who knows what.
He always carried a couple extra life savers in the front pocket of his plaid shirt.
Family get togethers were almost always in the big farm house at Grandpa & Grandma's, and some of my favorite memories are held within those walls. The big dinning room table for the adults and smaller folding tables for us kids, full of all the goodness that came out of Grandma (and the aunt's) kitchens. After we had stuffed ourselves, us kids would head to the basement to play pool and hang out, while the adults stayed around the table and talked. It was always the same, yet comfortably and perfectly so.
Grandpa loved old things, like cars and tractors. He had three old cars which I thought were pretty much the coolest thing ever.
I loved going to Grandpa & Grandma's. Playing in Mom's old room while Grandma worked in the office, or hanging out in the shop with Grandpa. I remember standing on or behind the duct taped line that marked the start of the fiberglassing area. I loved watching Grandpa and his hired man working, and could stay out there for hours (or what seemed like hours to a little girl).
Grandpa was an incredibly hard worker, and he passed that down to his sons and grandsons. (He also passed his love of ice cream down to them.)
He loved eating out and always had a big pile of Arby sauce and horse radish on the door of the fridge at home.
Grandpa had a sense of humor that was all his own. He always thrilled us grandkids by taking his dentures out, and had a deep chuckle that was one of my most favorite things about him.
Grandpa built a life that all of his family could be proud of, and he loved us all with a deep, strong type of love.
He was always willing to lend a hand, and it seemed like he oftentimes brought his own equipment.
Whenever he and Grandma went on a trip, they would bring back presents for us grandkids. This music box came from West Virginia and still sits on my shelf.
These pictures may have been slightly painful to get, but they are priceless.
The love between my grandparents was a thing of beauty. I really don't know how else to describe it. They fit each other perfectly. They cried together and laughed together. They were Marv and Mary. And they were one of the best examples of marriage I have ever seen.
This spring, on the trip home from the ER after one of the really hard days, Grandma said something that I will never forget. She was telling me about how, when she was a little girl and her family moved out from Ohio, they didn't plan to stay in this area but ended up visiting some people and then just never left. I told her that I was glad they had decided to settle here. She replied, "Me too. Otherwise I never would have met Grandpa."
Grandpa's love of running a chainsaw was passed down from one generation to another. As was the ability to always have dirt and grease under and around his fingernails no matter how many times he washed them with that orange GoJo soap.
Grandpa loved God's creation, and it showed by the way he took care of the 100+ acred farm he and Grandma owned.
I wrote this about a week ago, when old memories were heavy on my heart as I got the mower out of Grandpa's big shop. This is the way I will remember him.
The sound of a toolbox drawer opening and closing; Grandpa’s old, black, duct taped shoes scuffing the floor as he comes to a stop in front of his latest project; the crackle of static coming for the old stereo hanging on a nail as the weatherman gives the latest report.
The sight of greasy paper towels, parts of a sprinkler head, life saver wrappers, and miscellaneous other objects all scattered out on a Kraft paper covered table; a cabinet bursting with tools; the welder, backlit by the window facing east; and an old tractor, the exact same one Grandpa drove when he was my age.
Grandpa was involved in so many parts of my life, and the lives of my siblings and cousins. The wisdom he passed down to us is priceless. Wisdom about farming, family, love, machinery, and pretty much every single other part of life. He led by example, and showed us things instead of telling us.
When I was twelve, my family and I moved into the big farm house and Grandpa & Grandma moved into the manufactured house they had put in at the edge of the fir grove. Living right next to them for the past 7+ years has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I have been able to witness first hand the way Grandma has cared for and loved Grandpa through all of the sickness, and it has changed me forever.
For as long as I can remember, he fed birds and squirrels and pretty much anything else that happened to come near him. He placed this bird feeder straight out from their dining room window, and so at every meal they were able to watch the birds that flocked to that feeder. At times the ground was practically crawling with all of the different types of birds, and they always kept a bird book close to identify them.
He rarely went without suspenders, and normally wore a ball cap with a seed or tractor company logo on it. His signature wave was one finger in the air.
He hated coffee and only tolerated chocolate, but loved butterscotch and always begged me to make him butterscotch chip cookies.
I don't think I have ever heard a bad thing said about my Grandpa. He was a godly man who was loved and respected by everyone he met.
The legacy of his and Grandma's love continues with the great-grandkids.
There is a plaque that hangs on the wall at Grandpa & Grandma's that holds these words, along with their last name:
"You got it from your father, it was all he had to give. So it's yours to use and cherish, for as long as you may live. If you loose the watch he gave you, it can always be replaced. But a black mark on your name, son, can never be erased. It was clean the day you took it, and a worthy name to bear. When he got it from his father, there was no dishonor there. So make sure you guard it wisely, after all is said and done. You'll be glad the name is spotless, when you give it to your son."
Last Sunday, they celebrated their 58th anniversary. This picture was taken last year on their 57th, the day after Grandpa came home from spending a few months in rehab.
He loved children and alway made a noise with his mouth (that is impossible to reproduce in writing) as he tickled them.
The almost 79 years he spent on this earth changed it for the better. He left a legacy of hard work, the importance of family, and a love for Jesus.
Grandpa was one of the greatest men I have ever know. And I am going to miss him a lot.