Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grampa...he's on my mind today

Last winter we lost my grampa...He was 87 and it was time.  He lived a full life and it was so hard to watch him decline the last few years.  He was larger than life and taught all of us so much.  As kids he spent a great deal time with us.  We lived 6 hours away and our summer vacation was normally split between each set of grandparents.  He took us fishing, hunting, name it, if it had to do with the bush then we did it.  I remember riding in his truck, never with seat belts on, there were usually too many of us in the truck for that!  He had an eight track tape player and we listened to fiddle or country music.  It was such a thrill to ride with him.  He "air" fiddled while driving, he would take his cigarette and turn it back into his mouth and it would come out still lit and drive like a madman, (all at the same time!) we never went that fast, but when you are little it sure seemed like it.  We followed him on trap lines and then sat in the basement and watched him skin a beaver and then stretch it out on a board with tacks that he would hammer in.  It was the coolest thing to watch, especially when you are about 8!  He knew a Doctor who owned a cabin on a lake and the man owned all the property around the lake too. Grampa just happened to have a key for the lock on the only road access in!  We would take our lunch that Nana had packed and we would be off for the day.  It was clean, clear water and full of bass.  We would go the night before and catch frogs for bait.  My mother was mortified that while we were catching frogs grampa taught us how to throw a rock and kill the snakes that were in the pond with all the frogs.  He really didn't like snakes, spiders...or mice!

Grampa on Green Lake

It has been a lifetime since we were last on Green Lake.  I think I was 12 or 13 the last time we went there, but the memories will last forever! 

He taught us all how to shoot a gun and took us bird hunting!  Hubby deer hunted with him for a few years, but hubby never really got to see him hunt for real.  By the time he started hunting, grampa was only hunting from his truck and not walking the bush like he used to.  Walking the bush with him was always interesting.  He was so used to going alone that he would forget that we were following and the branches from the trees would snap back and get us...usually in the face.  We would go into ponds and creeks to check minnow traps and then take the minnows and put them in the live well in the creek just behind the house, so when the fisherman came for bait we could follow and help pick out and catch the minnows again!  I think he sold them for about two dollars a dozen back then.  Under one of the big trees he had a box of worms too.  Again the fisherman would come for bait and we would go and pick the worms out of the box and sell them too. It always seemed like such an adventure and there was always something to do.

One of my earliest memories of him are going to visit him when he was logging.  It seemed to take forever to get to where he was working and the machines were huge!!  I think my favorite memory as a child was when he had a campground on the river.  When we were growing up, pop was a big treat and very rarely did we ever have any.  I will never forget opening the big old lift top fridge and getting to pick my own can of pop.  It was white cream soda.  I think if I remember rightly he had a pop machine that had bottles too, with the bottle opener built onto the front of the machine.  He had 2 cabins that he rented and people rented out spots for their trailers.  There were flat green bottom cedar boats that he had for the tourists and they were all tied to the wharf.  We called them docks, but he called them wharfs.  I don't have any pictures of that campground, but can see it my mind as if I was there yesterday.  He gave up the campground when the lease ran out, but it wasn't long before he had another lease on more property and he started all over again.  I sometimes get very frustrated with the owner of our campground.  The owners live on the property and rarely come out of the house.  Grampa never lived on the properties where his campgrounds were, but always knew who was there and why.  After supper we would all pile into the truck and head out to see what was happening.  He drove to the campground and stopped to talk to everyone there, made sure everything was fine.  He would back there again in the morning to see if there had been any trouble during the night.  In his later years he rarely got out of his truck and would just shut it off and sit and chat with his campers. He would sit with the truck shut off and it would still be in gear. When he would go to start it again he would often forget that he had to put it back into park for it to start.  Everyone knew him and he knew everyone that was there.   

I think about him every day....I have gone to visit Nana and although he hadn't lived in the house for the last 2 years of his life, it seems so empty without him. Even when he was in care, we knew we could go and see him.  Nana has changed very little in his room.  His bed is still made, his wheelchair and walker are still in the room.  Even the baby monitor that they used (Nana's room is upstairs) is still on the dresser.  I miss him....he was a good man!

The house he built with his father!  Nana still lives there today!


  1. Beautiful Post Annie! You're love for him comes shining through and there is not better way to have lived and died and to be remembered with such fondness.

  2. What a wonderful story. He was a good man to be loved so much by his grandchildren and his family.

  3. What a flood of wonderful memories. I felt like I stepped back in time for a moment or two...