Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Farewell, Grandpa

My grandpa passed away last week after a brief struggle with cancer.  He was 90.  My grandpa was a true-blue farmer.  He loved farming.  Up until the end, he still wanted my mom and uncle to take him on Sunday drives just so he could see the corn harvest.  We placed a model of his first tractor - a Farmall H -- in the flower arrangement at his funeral.

To be honest, I agonized over whether I should write about my grandfather.  Even though he is no longer in any pain and now he can join my grandmother up in Heaven, I miss him. And it's hard for me to think that I won't be able to visit with him again soon.

But I also feel the need to write down a few of things that I loved about my grandpa, just so I can look back on the good times we had together.

So here's a list of what I'll always remember about my grandpa:

  • He lived in the same small Iowa town his whole life.  He graduated from the same school as I did.  He even played basketball in the same gymnasium that I did.
  • He liked to brag that he bought every car he ever owned, including his first car in high school, with cash -- never credit.  He earned all his money by working hard in the fields and taking care of livestock.
  • He was always a good provider.  Whatever my grandmother wanted, he gave her.  They would take trips to Florida and Arizona every winter with the money he earned selling a few hogs in the fall.
  • He was a super competitive card player.  He and my grandmother got together with friends to play card games several times a week.  And my grandpa had the amazing ability to win almost every game.  But when he lost, even to his grandkids, boy, would he pout :)
  • He was an extremely smart businessman.  He grew his farm to 600 acres over the course of several decades.  He never used a calculator when balancing the farm books; he did all the math in his head.  He was very good at math.
  • He gave me the opportunity to grow up on the farm.  When I was a baby, he invited my dad and mom to come back home and join my uncle in the farming operation.  My grandparents were my next door neighbors, and my cousins lived just down the road.  It was a very peaceful place to grow up.
  • He traveled to all 50 states and to several places overseas, including Europe and Australia.
  • He loved watching Minnesota Twins games, reading history books and watching Fox News.  He especially enjoyed watching Bill O'Reily.
  • In one of the last conversations I had with my grandpa, he asked me why I wear my hair so short.  He noted that the women on Fox News wear their hair so long that they can tie it in a ponytail under their chins.  He said he like that my grandma wore her hair short.
  • He told the Hospice nurse that my grandmother was the most beautiful woman in the world, even up until the day she died from cancer four years ago.
  • He used to take me on golf-cart rides around the trailer park he lived at in Arizona.
  • He used to get bored in the middle of the church service and ask me to play Tic Tac To with him on the back of the offering envelope.
  • He loved pancakes, pickled herring, liver & onions, 100,000 Grand candy bars and KFC chicken.
  • He used to call me Cucumber.  To this day, I don't know why he gave me that nickname.
  • He planted a little evergreen tree that I brought home from school on Arbor Day.  Now that evergreen stands well over 8 feet tall.  He used to give me updates on the tree when I came home to visit from college.

As you can see, there was a lot to love about my grandfather.  I'll always be your Cucumber, Grandpa.  I miss you and hope to see you again someday.

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