Monday, April 11, 2011

Memories of Grandpa

Grandfathers are for loving and fixing things. –Unknown

I've collected some of the memories I have of my Grandpa and compiled them because I'm speaking at his funeral today. Most of this you've already seen, but I wanted it all in one place. Today we say goodbye to our father, grandfather, brother, friend.

At Grandma’s funeral, they put me as the last speaker and by the time the other two speakers had finished, I was a wreck. So, I asked them not to put me last this time. I'm not sure I like middle speaker much better.

It is for a sad occasion that we meet. I think that it is only sad for us. In the Book of Mormon, Alma teaches about death.

Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
–Alma 40:11–12

It is a happy thing to know that Grandpa has been released from all the health problems that have plagued him for so many years. And I'm sure he's in a better place. We know that before we came to earth, we lived as a family with a loving Father in Heaven. I believe that when we die, we are greeted by that same loving Father. There may be accounts to settle, but I think those are set aside for a time when we are called back home because, because no matter what we've done in this life, that doesn't lessen the love that He feels for us and I'm sure He is happy to see us. I think that the celebration wouldn't be complete without family and friends; perhaps Grandpa's father came to meet him, and I hope his mother and Grandma, were also there to greet him. Through covenants made in Holy Temples, we know that families can be together forever if we are obedient to the commandments of God.

While I'm sure there was a joyful reunion in Heaven, those of us who are left behind mourn the loss of someone special. He will be missed. Grandpa led a long, full life. He faced his share of difficulties and trials. He began to lose his eyesight at the age of 18. He suffered with gout as an adult. As the years passed, he relied more and more on my Grandma to take care of his needs. He's done passably well taking care of himself since she passed away 7 years ago, but his health had really declined in the last few years. It is sad to see someone you love go from completely independent {regardless of his poor eyesight} to completely dependent.

I've been thinking a lot about Grandpa the last few days. Here are some fun things I remember about him. He was never afraid to speak his mind. He worked hard; he was frugal with his earnings, but enjoyed using them carefully to make life more comfortable. He kept everything in good repair around his home. He learned to work around his poor eyesight and the only thing he ever gave up because of it was his driver's license. I am the oldest grandchild, and when I got old enough to drive, they would have me drive them around sometimes. Grandma, who was the regular chauffeur, would ride in the back and Grandpa would sit in the passenger seat. If he thought I was driving a little too fast, he'd say, you pay your own tickets. If they went on a trip, which they often did, they would have me drive them to the airport and let me keep their car while they were gone. That is a lot of trust to put in a 16-year old.

You can't talk about Grandpa without thinking of Grandma too. She was the heart and Grandpa was the soul. He'd have an idea and they'd plan it together and she'd put into it {whatever it may have been} the love that they both had for life and each other and their family. They shared what they had with their family. They loved to travel and took their children and grandchildren on many trips with them. When I was in 5th grade, they took me and and aunt and we drove down to San Diego and went to the Zoo and Sea World. What I didn't know was that they'd planned a day in Disneyland, too and surprised me with it as we passed the sign on the freeway. It was a really wonderful trip. We went back to Disneyland in 1996, this time with all of my brothers and sisters and my parents and Linda and some cousins. It was pretty spectacular.

Grandpa worked at Weber State as the manager of the cashier’s office. I remember when I was very little, and happened to be hanging out with Grandma, that he would sometimes come home for lunch and Grandma would have a Swanson’s chicken pot pie ready for him. He retired from “the college” when I was 11, but he still bled purple. They went to football games for quite a few years after he retired. My first semester at college, it was really intimidating to me to go up on campus to take care of everything and since Grandpa knew his way around, he came with me to help me get registered. After I got my classes, we went over to the cashier’s office so I could pay. It was different than when he was running the place and he told me how things worked when he was in charge. He was always very organized and precise in all he did and this was no exception. He told me about how he ran things, and the thing I remember most was that he used school letterhead paper in all the printers for the receipts they gave to students. It was that little touches like that that made everything he did special.

Over the years they did renovations, big and small, to keep their house up to day. I remember that Grandpa took down all those orange-ish wood veneer doors, sanded them down and painted them glossy white. And he did a really nice job too. Even though he could hardly see, he always did everything very well. After the doors were hung, he put fancy new handles on all the doors.

My brother, Andrew, who is serving a mission in St. Louis, Missouri, sent a few thoughts of his about Grandpa. He said: I tried not to make it too long, if anyone complains just tell them it is because I was his favorite.

What can I say about Grandpa?

There are a million things on my mind, but I am having trouble trying to put them to words. I hope you all know that all I have to say is out of love and appreciation for him. Most of my fondest memories from my childhood are with Grandma and Grandpa J. My Mom and Dad both had work so Grandma and Grandpa watched me. Some of these memories include: taking me to any construction sites around town so I could see the “diggers” (the backhoes). Going to the Dinosaur park and all of us jumping when they first added sound to the dinosaurs. Eating spaghetti-o's with hot dogs in them. Whenever we would drive anywhere I would always say, “seat belt Grandpa.” Having sleepovers on the weekends and watching way too much cable TV. And of course the “Andy Candy” dish full of Skittles for me.

It’s funny how these memories made a big difference in my life. I don't think I knew a “digger” was called a backhoe until I was a teenager. I am always excited to go to the dinosaur park and I can remember exactly which dinosaur scared us all. I am always excited to see spaghetti-o's with hot dogs in them at the store and eat quite a bit of them as a missionary. And I still eat way too many Skittles.

Grandpa loved to travel and loved to take people with him. I have seen many vacation pictures and it seems like he had a hat to go with every one. My own personal experience of this was when he took my mom and me to Disney World in Orlando Florida in 2009. At the age of 82 he rode: Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain with us. After every ride he made sure that the ride attendants knew he was 82.

He is now in a better place. He once again is with his wife, siblings and parents. He no longer needs a cane and he has a full head of red hair again. The pains and afflictions of life are over and now he is in a state of rest. He leaves behind a large family that will miss him greatly.

All good grandparents spoil their grandchildren; I guess that makes him one of the best.

I really enjoyed Andrew’s memories. I have one more sweet memory I want to share. I really wanted to make a lap quilt for Grandpa for Christmas, but things just didn’t work out that way. After the New Year, I was able to start working on it. As I worked, I pondered names for this quilt. I had a half-dozen or so ideas, but nothing seemed to fit. As the quilt came together, I'd resigned to calling it something that was less-than-spectacular. As I was putting the finishing pieces on it, I realized that the browns in the fabric reminded me of chocolate and caramel. As I thought about that, I remembered that Grandpa had a candy dish. And in his candy dish, he nearly always had Werther's Originals. I'd had a Werther's from his candy dish the last time I visited him.

I remembered other candies in Grandpa's candy dish; gummy bears {the good ones from Germany}, Skittles {also known as Andy Candy}, M&M's, mini candy bars. You see, Grandpa has a sweet spot for the grandkids. So if he knew you were coming, there was always something yummy in his candy dish. The design in the quilt reminded me of those wrapped Werther's candies and so I decided that Grandpa's Candy Dish would be the name for his quilt. I finished it in the middle of February and I was so excited to send it to him so that he'd know that I have a sweet spot for him too.

Andrew mentioned that he was “the favorite.” Grandma and Grandpa were good at making everyone feel like they were the favorite. I think that every one of their grandkids might argue that they are the favorite. But we all know that I’m really the favorite. I remember him with fondness and am grateful to have had him in my life.


Impera Magna said...

You were blessed to have such a wonderful grandfather... thinking about you!

Paulette said...

You and your brother have such wonderful memories of your Grandpa. I feel like I knew him just a little bit too now that you've shared. I'm sure he will be dearly missed. Hugs.

Jennifer Lovell said...

That was a really nice tribute, and he seemed like a very special person. He has created a lot of special memories for you, and some of them funny--how nice! I laughed about the "you pay your own tickets" : ), and I love how you all remember his candy dish as a special sign of his love. Thanks for sharing a bit of him with me.

Wanda said...

Completely precious memories! Thank you for sharing. Makes me want to be that kind of memorable grandparent. I have to get a candy dish!