21 July 2011

What Grandpa Taught Me

Today my grandpa would have turned 88.  He's been gone for 10 1/2 years now, but not a day passes when something doesn't remind me of him. 

My grandpa and I, around 1989.

We lived next door to him for my entire childhood, and he was a central father-figure and role model to me.  Most of what Grandpa taught me was learned through example rather than words. 

-Work hard and give your all.  I don't think Grandpa knew the word "idle" or "lazy" or even "relaxation".  He was always working.  Before retirement he worked for Union Pacific Rail Comany as a car repairman.  When he got home he worked on his farm where he had a coop full of chickens and an apple orchard. I knew him after he retired, but even then he was always working, always busy with his garden, roses, chopping wood, etc. 

-Don't complain. I never, in the 15 years I spent with him before he passed, heard him complain.  Even as he lay dying of bone cancer, delirous with pain, he didn't complain--everything was taken in quiet endurance.  I think that this quality amazed me most about him.

-Always keep going. As I got older and visited with Grandpa more, I learned that his life had been really difficult.  His mother died when he was just a toddler. A couple of years after that he contracted Polio, which in the 1920's was one of the most deadly illnesses.  I remember him telling me how his father and step-mother tied him to a board while he was ill so that he would be forced to rest. 

World War II began when he was in his late teens and he enlisted in the Army.  Shortly after, he was discharged due to medical reasons. Nobody knows much about this--he never talked about it. Whether he experienced combat is unknown. 

In spite of his difficult early life, Grandpa kept pushing forward, working hard, and making the best of life that he could.  In his later life, arthritis and cancer tried to pull him down, but he still continued gardening and doing what he loved as long as his was able to. He never gave up.

-Education, learning, and curiosity are essential. After serving in the Army, Grandpa went to college and received a degree in Poultry Husbandry. Of my four grandparents, he was the only one to have a degree. His entire life was spent learning. As a child, I remember leafing through encylopedias with him, or reading National Geographic or some other book on history.   He always had an answer or explaination to my questions. As a girl, I was certain that he was the smartest person ever in the history of the world.

-Garden with tenderness.  Grandpa loved growing things.  He garden was full of tomatoes, corn, potatoes, carrots, squash, cucumbers, onions, cantelope, grapes--more than he and Grandma could eat. The care he took in his garden, and with his long row of rosebushes, was firm, diligent, and patient--the same way he went about life. This is how he knew to make things flourish, as this was the method he used for himself.

I miss my Grandpa and I wish Ellie would have had a chance to know him.  I hope that I continue to apply the lessons I learned from him and that Ellie watches as I did.  I'm so blessed to have had the chance to live next to him, spend so much time with him, and have the rich memories of him that I do. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh goodness...that was very sweet and made me get all teary eyed. Sounds like a wonderful man.


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