Jan 24, 2011


Note: Written the 20th of January.

I had two grandpa's growing up, one great-grandpa and Dad's father. My great grandpa died when I was 12. Grandpa passed away yesterday and I am crushed. Please indulge me in some memories.

When I first "went away" to college, I really just drove 8 hours and moved in to the spare room in Grandma and Grandpa's condo. Everyone in the complex was at least 50 years older than me.

Of course I didn't have a job yet and financial aid and the money dad gave me barely paid tuition and books. Grandpa knew this. He also didn't want to just give me money. So one afternoon he comes out of the bedroom and says, "Becky. I have something to tell you. Now, I don't want you to think this is going to happen all the time, but a letter came today from California. Inside was some money for you. It's from a special friend who doesn't want you to know who his is."
At some point during the writing of this blog, I may have alluded to the fact that I am not an idiot.
I knew NO ONE living in California. I'm pretty sure neither did either of my parents. I also knew people didn't send CASH via the US Postal Service.
Since I was 18 and STUPID (do I even need to qualify the age of 18? Everyone knows 18yo's are dumb) I said, "Uh huh, Grandpa. I don't believe you". So he went to his room and found an envelope with a post mark from California, brought it out to show me, but wouldn't let me the sender's address. I know it was from my Grandpa. And I really did need a little pocket money. Thank you, Grandpa.

At one point I was "too cool" to live with my grandparents, so I moved in with another gal...and some random guy. I told my Grandpa it would be OK, because we all had our own rooms. When the guy and girl started waking up in the same bed together, I high tailed it back to my grandparents house, and bless their hearts, neither of them said, "I told you so".

Another Grandpa story unique to my family is when my Dad had his kidney removed. This was before the days of the laparoscopic kidney removal, back in the day where they put you on a jack-knifed table and cut you two thirds of the way around, including through your diaphragm.
not my dad, but that is an recent nephrectomy incision with drainage tube.
Grandpa and Grandma had come to Salt Lake to help Mom get three kids and Dad home to Idaho.
Along the way, our avocado green Plymouth Valare wagon broke down.
1978_Plymouth_Volare_2.jpg (28376 bytes)
(not our car, obviously, since it's not green)
 It wasn't going ANYWHERE. I was only 5 at the time, so the memory is a little fuzzy, but I remember Grandpa snapping into "Go Mode" and organizing things so we all got home safe and expeditiously. The next day he went back and got our car home. What a blessing for my mother to have them there. I can't imagine caring for a 5 year old and two 2 year olds AND a very ill husband without their capable help.

Everyone knows Grandpa as the adventurer. The man who would hop on a motorcycle at a moments notice and take a tour of the Sierra's simply because he wanted to do so.
The man who pretty much lied his way into a chemist's job at a munitions depot for the Navy, and then studied like crazy at night to make sure he didn't blow up the whole base, or himself.
The ideal scout master who created pontoon boats for the scouts out of shell casings from missiles (It was the 50's and 60's, you could do things like that back then) and taking the boy's on 50 mile hikes like it was going out of style.
The old guy riding in bike races with an oxygen tank strapped on the back.
(Utah Summer Games, 2009. Photo courtesy of the blog Cedar & Sand)
The guy who just couldn't stand not to have a camper and the option of travel, even after he was much to weak/old/sick to travel. (None of those words really seem to fit Grandpa, even when they described him)

Grandpa was a local treasure. He could tell you just about anything relating to the history of Southern Utah, and did so with great gusto. He was so knowledgeable and well known that people writing books or filming documentaries on the area frequently used him as a reference.
My kids referred to him as "airplane Grandpa" because after he got too old to drive, he would fly model airplanes and remote control cars. My Uncle said the last time he took Grandpa out flying, he thought the planes would crash, because Grandpa's reflexes had slowed down so much. Going out in flaming glory was SO Grandpa's style, Dale thought, "why not?" And wouldn't you know it, the landings were some of the smoothest ever executed.
On our last visit, Grandpa had the kids in the hall with a remote control car, zooming up and down the corridor of the assisted living wing while "all the old guys" were down to dinner.
Grandpa never identified with being old, he was always 17. Well into his 80's he would do his impression of an old man, wobbling all over the place and nearly falling, then seconds later spring into a boxing stance only to begin shadow boxing with whomever he'd just fooled into thinking he was anything but spry.

He was so full of life, it's hard to believe his Spirit has moved out of this plane. I miss you like crazy, Grandpa.
This is from our last visit with Grandpa. Mid December 2010.

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