Grandpa and Ben on my and Ben's wedding day (October 2005)
Grandpa died peacefully on Tuesday, March 25, 2008, at 5:45 a.m. (his time). He was 85. He was buried yesterday. I was unable to be there, unfortunately. I wrote my memories of him that I will post here.
I can’t think of Grandpa without thinking about his blue- and white-striped overalls with work boots and a hat placed on top of his head (not pushed down over his head-just resting on top!). He was always working on something, and he was always dressed like this to work.
My earliest memories of Grandpa are going with him for his "water turn". I have no idea what that means. I just know we would ride in the back of his pickup, drive to some field down the street from their house, and he would move pipes around to change where the water was going(?). I think he did this several times a day, but I don’t think it was every day.
Grandpa was a funny guy. The first time I was aware of this was when I was around ten or 11. We were at a family reunion. He picked up two sticks from the ground and held them up to his head, like antlers. He made sure everyone saw him as a deer before discarding the sticks. He loved silly stories, most notably “The Letter from the Old Country”, which he read at our annual Christmas party. He could never get through it without choking on his laughter. I remember him reading others, though, like “The Water Closet” and many funny poems.
If he wasn’t outside working, you could always find Grandpa in his rocking chair reading a book. He had a rocking chair like the one on While You Were Sleeping. I know he read both fiction and nonfiction, but I have no idea what he liked to read. This shows my lack of remembering because he always showed me and told me about his books. Maybe this was because I always arrived to his house with a book in hand. He would ask about my book and tell me about his.
Grandpa was a skilled woodworker. He made beautiful clocks for all of his children. He also made us a nice set of blocks. My grandparents always had a wooden slide in their basement; I am wondering now if he made it. I assume he did. His basement also housed some sort of manual sharpener for his woodworking tools that we loved to play with. We would turn out the lights so we could watch it spark.
Until I was seven, Grandpa always called me Nelma. Apparently, Mark, my older brother, had called me this when he was young and couldn’t pronounce my name. I hated this name and cringed every time Grandpa said it. When he was helping my parents finish our basement, I finally got up the courage to tell him not to call me Nelma anymore. He was very respectful and never mentioned the name again. I immediately regretted bringing it up, though. I didn’t realize until he didn’t call me Nelma that it had been special that that was a name only he called me. I always wished I could take it back, but I didn’t know how to ask him to start calling me Nelma. It was hard enough to ask him to stop. I should have told him this at some point when I got older.
Grandpa had a very good memory. He has a big family and knows a lot of people (seriously, you couldn't go anywhere with him or Grandma without being stopped by three million people who wanted to say hi), but he always knew who everyone was and who they belonged to. This was increasingly impressive the more our family grew and the more confused he got about other things. He never didn’t know us. He also always remembered and asked about the things we were doing. For example, when I saw him last (in January) he asked me if I was teaching still. Considering everything else he said was pretty nonsensical, I was impressed that he remembered this fact about me.
Grandpa loved hard rolls with butter. I am talking HARD rolls. I couldn’t figure out how he could bite into them. They were solid! When we lived in Bennion, my grandparents made trips to come see us every time they needed to buy more rolls from a bakery near our house. He ate bread and butter with every meal. He used his bread to wipe his plate completely clean. And, I kid you not, you could not tell that Grandpa’s plate had been eaten off of when his meal was finished! (Grandpa was infamous at our house for his perfectly clean plates!)
Speaking of eating, Grandpa always wore a bib during meals. Actually, it was a towel, but he wore one at every meal and used it to wipe his face at the end. He also always tucked his tie into his shirt before eating.
Grandpa was a temple sealer. By the time Ben and I got married, though, he wasn’t officiating anymore. He had Parkinson’s and was ultra-aware of his limitations. It made him really nervous to perform ceremonies.
Grandpa was a very clean guy. His cars were always perfectly clean inside and out. His garage and driveway are spotless! This was something else he was notorious for in our family. A driveway and garage floor you could eat off of (and we did! Once the family got big enough we began holding Thanksgiving dinners in the garage, and it was a clean place!). Someone’s car had to have leaked oil on his driveway at some point. He must have cleaned it off. He was also observant on top of being clean, which made my mom nervous when he would come to visit. She always felt he was inspecting everything. He did, but probably more because he knows how things are made and looks into quality.
Grandpa was a slow driver. I don’t know if he was when I was a young child. The last time I rode in a car with him (I was no older than 14), he seriously drove no more than ten miles an hour in his neighborhood. It was a problem for all the other cars on the road. He stopped driving pretty quickly, since it made him nervous. Grandma has done all the driving over the last several (plus?) years.
Grandpa gave me some advice before I went to college for the first time. We had stopped at his house for a visit on our way to Ricks, where my parents would leave me for the first time. I think he told me three things, but I can only remember two. He told me to look at the sky if I missed my family. My family would be looking at the same sun and moon I would; we really weren’t that far apart. He also told me when things got hard to buy myself a hamburger because you were never too poor for a hamburger. Of course, I didn’t eat hamburgers back then, but I take his advice now!
Recently Grandpa told my brother that it is terrible getting old. I think he is very happy to be free of the limitations of his sick body. I love him very much and will miss him.
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