I have so many wonderful memories of Grandpa. Growing up I loved going to his home in Eugene, Oregon. The first thing I would see every time we arrived were his huge beautiful rose bushes that always seemed to be in bloom. In the back yard he had the most wonderful garden with the biggest, best tasting raspberries I have ever seen in my life. I remember climbing his cherry tree and eating so many my stomach hurt. My cousins, sisters and I would throw all the apples that had fallen off the tree over the fence to Blu his old horse. I've never met a horse who liked to eat bread as much as Blu did. I remember the time we found a wasps nest on Grandpa's wood shed. Watching the uncles and older cousins take care of it was the funniest thing. It looked like a whole SWAT team was called in to destroy it.
Inside Grandpa's house was just as great. His closet of toys never changed. They were so old yet I love them so much. I remember being so sad the day I came to Grandpa's house and that bowl of plastic fruit was gone. We never were without sugar. The kitchen cupboards held endless supplies of candy bars, licorice, and other goodies. The freezer always had ice cream and delicious berries to put on top. The cookie jar was always full although I know Grandpa didn't make them, it must have been one of the aunts. All of us kids would spend forever standing in front of his fridge organizing the collage of photos he had of all us grand kids. I would count every one's pictures to see if he had the most of me up.
I once gave Grandpa a ceramic piggy bank that was of an old Grandpa with glasses sitting in a comfy chair with his legs crossed. It made me feel so good every time I went to his house and I saw he had it sitting out in his living room. One Christmas Grandpa gave Marybeth and me two HUGE (well at the time they seemed huge) stuffed rabbits. Mine was brown and I named him Thumper. To this day I still have him and he is my very favorite childhood toy. I used to sleep with him anytime I was sad or scared and he would make me feel better.
We used to go on horse riding camping trips. When I was too young to ride my own horse I sat behind Grandpa on Blu. One time Blu got pretty upset and started bucking but I held on to Grandpa and I didn't fall off. Grandpa loved the trick where you bend some one's pinkie finger down then push in. It hurt every time yet somehow I still liked it when he did it to me. I can't even count how many times he called me a knuckle head :) Most of the time Grandpa seemed so content sitting quietly in some comfortable chair. But when you got him out on a golf course you would see the clubs flying out of his hands as fast as the swear words were coming out of his mouth. We all love to joke about that side of him.
I always love all the stories Papa and his brothers tell about him and my Grandma while growing up. Somehow they never get old. I wish I could have know Grandma. I'm happy Ryan was able to meet Grandpa even if it was only a couple of times. I'm sad he never got to see his house. But I guess to him it would just seem like any other old house, and without the memories connected with it, I suppose it is.
Having Grandpa there for Thanksgiving was great. I'm so happy I was able to see him, talk to him and hug him one last time. When I got the news that he had passed on I knew I would miss him dearly but I was happy for him. He was very ready. I know he is with his wonderful wife now and many other loved ones who have passed. He is happy and that makes me happy.
I love you Grandpa!