Yesterday in church I heard a quote, and I thought about it quite a bit all day. Today my nephew posted this same quote on facebook. Here is the quote: "Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another." So I have decided to blog about some of my memories of my grandparents.
I really only knew my mother's parents. I never met my father's parents. They died before I was born. I only know about them by what was told me by my parents. It's interesting how I have developed a feeling for, or against them, depending on what was told to me. So I think that we really need to strive to focus on the positives when relating our memories of them. I might write another post about my father's parents, and my mother's mother, but this one will be about my mother's father.
My grandparents lived in a tiny town in southern Utah. They never really spent much time out of their own state, although my grandmother loved to travel. She did come to see us in Nebraska, and also in Texas. But I don't think my grandfather ever went much further than just across the border in to Arizona. They were raised in that small town, and lived there all their life. Every summer my mother would drive us kids from Texas to visit them. We would spend at least a month there. It was the highlight of our year!
My grandfather was a sort of larger than life character. He was a true cowboy, and always wore a cowboy hat. In fact, the hat he usually wore was quite beat up. To me, he almost seemed like superman. He could do anything it seemed.
For a time he worked at Bryce canyon, which is a national park not too far from their town. He helped with the trails, and he was a night security guard there. He worked at the park at night, then drove the school bus in the morning. He would sleep in the bus while the kids were in school, then go back to work again that night. He also was a deputy sherrif for a time, and even had the star to wear on his shirt.
One thing my grandfather was particular about was having sharp knives. I've seen him many times sharpen all of the knives in the kitchen. I do believe that more accidents happen with dull knives, so I think that's why he was so intent on making sure the knives were sharp. I have to confess that one time I was at the park and saw a dead rabbit. I could see it's teeth. I went home and saw a fish my father had just caught. I saw it's teeth and decided I would start a teeth collection. I got one of my grandpa's sharp knives and started to cut. But the fish was slippery and I slipped and cut my finger. I ended up getting some stitches in that finger. I was left with a scar, and a great respect for my grandfather's knives.
He had a small "gentleman's farm", and always had a beautiful garden. The elevation there is high, so he could only plant cool weather crops like onions, potatoes, radishes, and my favorite; peas. His gardens were always really beautiful, and produced well. My mother would pay us kids 10 cents per row to weed the garden. But usually I was only allowed to weed the onions because they were easier to tell apart from the weeds. But I loved the fresh peas, and was so happy when I was allowed to pick and eat some fresh. To this day, I would rather eat them uncooked than cooked. My grandfather's garden was always wonderful to me.
My grandpa also had some farm animals. He had cows, and would milk them every morning and night. Sometimes he would let me go with him to the pasture to milk the cows. His pasture was down by the river, so the mosquitos were horrible. So I usually waited in the truck while he milked. He used to wear a long sleeved shirt to protect himself from the mosquitos, and he sprayed bug repellent all over him. Then he would walk down to the small corral area and call the cows. He would say, "Alright, if you want to get milked, you better get up here." The cows would willingly come. He had large metal cans, about 2-3 feet tall, and would fill them with the milk. Then when he got home, he and my grandmother would pour the milk in to plastic jugs with lids. Then they would sell the milk to people in town. My memory is that they only charged 25 cents or 50 cents for a large jug. It was more than a gallon of milk. Sometimes my grandpa would put some of it in a butter churn and make butter. He also knew how to make cheese, but I never saw him make it.
My grandpa also had horses. He had a great love of horses. The one I remember the most was called "Slippers". She was brown with four white feet. Grandpa would often carry "rolaids" in his pocket, or a mint, and the horses would nudge his pocket until he gave them one. He also talked to them like he did the cows, and could get them to do whatever he wanted them to do. He had a way with animals, and they respected him.
He also had a chicken coop, and a pig. I remember going to the pig pen and taking a stick to scratch the back of the pig. The pig loved it. We were told to be careful not to put our hands in though, because he would bite. Sometimes I would help gather the eggs from the coop. It was kind of dirty and smelly, but I thought it was fun to find the eggs. I remember they had one rooster that was very mean. My older brother, who was about 9 at the time, went out to the barnyard and the rooster attacked him. The rooster pecked at his eye, and left a permanent red mark on the white of his eye. My grandfather was so mad that he took the rooster and killed it. It must not have been good eating, because I don't remember eating chicken. :)
Perhaps my grandfather's greatest love was fishing. He loved when my father, who also loved to fish, would come out to visit, and take him fishing. Even in my grandfather's later years, my father would take him fishing. Sometimes they were able to use a boat, which was better for my aging grandpa. When he got very feeble and had a lot of health problems, he would tell me stories about his life. He told me the exact spot to go to find a huge rainbow trout. He had tried many times to catch it, but it had elluded him each time. I don't remember the details, and the trout is long gone, but I always think about how he wanted someone to know where to go to find it.
The family tradition says that my grandfather had extra sensory perception. He had one daughter that he could just sort of mentally communicate with. One time some kids were at the house, and he said something like, "Watch what I can do." He just sat there, but within a few minutes, his daughter came in the house and said, "Did you call me?" He hadn't said a word, but she got the message. He did this several times in his life.
I remember as a child being a little bit scared of him. He had a gun belt hanging on the bookcase, and occasionally if a kid were really bad, he would threaten to spank them with it. But I never remember him spanking anyone ever. Just the threat was enough. lol Sometimes I would stay up late reading in to the night. He would open my bedroom door and say, "It's time to go to bed." He didn't say it mean, but I always quickly obeyed.
I remember hearing him get up early every morning, and go and start a fire in the wood burning stove in the kitchen. There was also one in the living room. It gets cold there, even in the summer, so he would get the house warmed up. He had a small wood shed not far from the kitchen, and would keep it filled with wood. I remember many times watching him chop would. One time he chopped his finger pretty good. He refused to go to the doctor, and just bandaged it up.
I have very vivid memories of kneeling around the kitchen table to say a family prayer each night. He led this event, and would ask different people to say the prayer. I always liked the closeness we felt when praying together.
My grandfather never had more than a High school education. He never had a college degree. He never really even had a profession. He just did what odd jobs he could to make a living. But to me he was greater than any famous person. I saw the dignity he showed in just doing what he could to provide for his family. I think about him often, and look forward to the day when I can see him again.