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I love Jesus. I love my family. I love photography. I love books. I love thinking. Probably in that order. I have a wonderful husband, five beautiful daughters, a house, and a camera. I enjoy spending time talking to my husband, playing with my girls, redecorating my house and shooting things with my camera. In my spare time, I sleep.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My tribute to my Grandpa Jim

On June 27th, my grandpa took his last breath here on earth and stepped into heaven.  He was a 92 year old farmer/rancher, husband to one woman for 61 years, father of 4, grandfather of 13, and great-grandfather to 15. He was a man who worked hard & had a steady faith.

I lived across the driveway from him my entire childhood.  He sat with me and helped me cut becknedder cookies at Christmas time.  He chewed me and my brother out for messing up the bales in the hayloft.  I watched him feed baby chickens, drive tractors, and shoot raccoons.  I have memories of him playing his harmonica & accordion, cleaning fish, and counting attendance & offerings every week in church.  So many evenings I'd see him in his yard pitching horseshoes or standing in the driveway in his bib overalls with his hands in his pockets chatting with some neighbor.  As a teenager I took a special interest in his Danish heritage and his experiences in the Second World War.  Through my interviews with him, I caught glimpses of the young man he had once been, flirting with the local girls during his days at basic training, or lying on the ship while crossing the Pacific writing poems in his army issued diary.  While my brother recalls Grandpa's sterner, more critical side...which he certainly had...I can't help but remember the mischievous side of him.  How he loved to tease people with a tell-tale twinkle in his eye.  I giggle when I think about how, when asked how he met my grandma, he loved to joke that when he met her at the local clinic, she tied him to the bedpost until he agreed to go out with her!  In these later years, as his health declined, I watched the strong farmer become less able to do all the things that had defined his life and observed a much more vulnerable side of my grandfather.  I watched his eyes dance whenever his great-grandchildren were in the room and I watched him cry when he talked about how many people he had seen pass over the years. 

On July 2nd, we celebrated his life and mourned his departure from us.  As pleased as we all are for his promotion into glory, it was hard to realize that those of us who loved him most and knew him best will never see him again in this world.  He has been a constant fixture in the tapestry of my life. Even when I failed to give him my full attention, he was always there.  My sister & I talked last week about how his relationships with each of us grandchildren was different.  Living in such proximity with our grandparents has given my siblings and me a unique set of experiences with him that some of the other grandchildren did not have.  We were a part of Grandpa's day to day life.  We went to his house nearly every day after school.  We sat near him in church every Sunday for 18 years. 

At the funeral we sang the hymn, "Love Lifted Me", which is a fairly upbeat hymn, and yet it was this part of the service that was the most difficult for me because as soon as we started singing, I was taken back to a time of sitting in the pew next to Grandma & Grandpa at our church and I could hear Grandpa's voice next to me singing along. 

Grandpa Jim was a special person.  Many people loved him for many different reasons.  But for me, he was just grandpa and he loved me, and that's all the really mattered.


Alice Dubs said...

Gina, that was beautiful! As I sit and read this the tears are flowing down my face. I have been so much stronger than I thought and haven't had near the tears I thought I would, but this wonderful tribute has touched me deeply. Thanks for sharing. Alice

Jules said...

browsing blogs and stumbled upon yours. Incredibly sweet post about your grandpa, it left tears in my eyes. He left behind an incredible legacy and that is the sweetest thing to see.