Grandpa loved the land, and an early lesson was - if you take care of the land it will take care of you. If I cut down a tree, I will always plant two more, and if that sky is red at night - I always know there are some happy sailors on the sea. I am also ready for a long cold winter this year, because the leaves started falling in our backyard in July.
Nicole and I spent every day at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma would bring us to school, and Grandpa would pick us up in the little blue pickup. During these years - Grandpa taught us patience. Only a patient man would sit in front of a TV, eating bologna sandwiches after school and watching "Dance Party USA" with two pre-teen girls - every single day. He taught us to read for a purpose. Each morning, Gramps would slide the paper across the counter and ask Colie and me to read it to him, because he was "too busy" making lunch for Grandma or puttering in the kitchen. We would read him articles and he would ask us questions - real adult questions. We would have conversations about our community and what was outside the city limits. He would honestly answer our questions, and at a very early age we began to talk politics and community action. He would say, "You have to know your neighbors to help them."
We learned trust, and responsibility. We biked around the neighborhood and played night-games until it was dark. But usually, that was preceded with a "don't go out with a wet head!" or "Nicole, put on some socks under those shoes."
And of course, there were the basic life skills of putting butter on top of the peanut butter sandwich, so it didn't stick to your teeth, and if your quonset is on fire, it is completely logical to pass the fire trucks on the way to the farm – with your shoeless granddaughter sitting in the front seat, just because she wanted to go, too.
Most importantly, we learned love. He loved us undeniably and unquestionably - so much that I am pretty sure I was his favorite.
However, I'm also pretty sure that everyone he loved felt the same, Grandma, my parents, my sister and cousins – we were all convinced that we were his favorite. Now, that's a teacher.
So, thanks, Grandpa. Thanks for the lessons - I was listening and I promise to continue to teach them to Bennett and Harper. Now, go play some cards with Bob.