My Grandpa used to tell me a story about the picnicking bears when I was young, so young in fact that I cannot for the life of me remember how it goes. He used to also do Donald Duck impressions (appropriately his name was Donald) while bouncing me on his knee and regaling about the good ‘ole days when he could get ice cream for a nickle. Living on a farm he would often let my cousins and I ride on his riding lawn mower, or he would hitch a trailer to the back where we could all ride through the woods. The ride seemed so adventurous back then, but that might have been because when we arrived back home our moms, or Grandma, would check us for ticks, and obviously it could only be an adventure when you were being checked for ticks.
Even in the ’90s Grandpa had learned the art of being a season “photo-bomber”, notice Grandpa peering through the screened door as Grandma is attempting to get a good photo of all the grandchildren.
After a long day of work he was known to enjoy a batch of air popped popcorn with a side of Sun Drop. On nights that I got to spend the night (which I often begged to do) we would all enjoy a bowl of vanilla ice cream with plain peanuts, sometimes with a hint of chocolate syrup. Grandpa was a Packers fan and had a chair that was his for watching the games. He showed the same disdain he had when the Packers lost for when the price of gas would go up.
Grandpa was a hero for our country by serving in the Army and then he put a ton of years into the auto industry. Back when folks could still retire from jobs he did so. He took pride in his farm, gardens, family, and faith. At one point he took up woodworking, and maybe he did it all along, but one day I suddenly remember seeing these amazing car, truck, and train replicas pop up all over my grandparent’s house. The year I got an American Girl for Christmas he had crafted a bed for my doll, along with a mattress and bedding included (pretty sure Grandma helped with that one).
Picnicking with Grandpa in the ’80s, back when I was an only grandchild.
Before I started school, and when I was still an only grandchild, Grandpa would let me ride in his truck with him into town. He used to mow Great-Grandma’s lawn and while he did that I sat inside eating cookies and drinking milk. My mother confirmed the other day that they were store-bought. Either way I remember that time getting to ride Grandpa’s big blue truck with the bunny sticker in the back window. Grandpa would tell stories about him and his twin brother, David, and how mischievous they were, always placing blame on one another when they would get in trouble.
I don’t know who he was as a father, brother, or a husband, but I know who he was as a Grandpa and he was the best. I will always cherish his sense of humor, that I like to think I got from him. When I hug deeply I will think of him, like the way he did in greetings and goodbyes. I feel sad that my children, those mere glimmers of light in my future will not know him the way I knew him, but they will know of him and what they know will be good.
You may not have known Grandpa, but he would have taught you to live your life well and full and to be a good person. He would have also taught you to laugh and have a sense of humor. He may not have known, but he would have taught you the importance you can play in a child’s life and how everything we do and say will influence the way people feel about us beyond our days in Earth.
Today I challenge you to reach out to someone that played an important role in your life, someone whom you know or remember fondly. As for me, I will have to wait to hear about how the picnicking bears story goes and as far as Grandpa goes, I’m sure he’s reunited with his brother David, causing all sorts of trouble and pinning it on one another. 🙂
Grandpa, October 7, 1933 – March 1, 2013