I remember sitting on his knee when I was a little girl... He could be a fantastic horse! But he had a habit of bucking me off--a lot! He had a huge yard and a riding mower; and he let me ride with him a couple of times. That's probably the only reason I know how big the yard was... Back then, in 1976, nobody made a fuss about kids on riding mowers with Gramps...
He loved to tell stories--usually the same ones over and over--and we all loved to hear them, even if we had heard them just yesterday. My favorite was the riddle about the skunk family.
Imagine yourself a little child, sitting on his knee... I can still hear his voice: especially the rather thick Minnesota accent indicative of his Swedish ancestry (s sounds that should have been z sounds, e sounds that should have been i sounds or schwa sounds, etc.) He gave great back rubs, too.
Once there was a mother skunk who lived with her two baby skunks. They were named In and Out.
Now sometimes In went Out and Out came in, and other times Out was out and In was in. The mother skunk had a hard time keeping up with them.
One day In was out and Out was in. The mother skunk said, "Out, would you go out and bring In in?"
So Out went out and quickly came back with In.
"How did you find In so quickly?" asked the mother skunk.
"Oh, it was easy," Out said. "... Instinct."
There were others which I don't remember as well. Some were just plain silly. Some taught a lesson. A story always meant we could sit on Gramps' lap and snuggle--and the nonverbal lesson in that time was as important as the lesson in the story.
His story-telling even extended to his testimonies at church. He would often launch into a story and lose track of time. Once, when I was a teenager, he gave a report about a trip he had taken. "I'm only going to talk for 15 minutes," he said resolutely. After 22 minutes had gone by, he said, "Well, Ferne didn't lend me her watch, so I'm home free." I always thought he must have planned it that way.
Gramps was quite content in any situation—I cannot remember ever hearing him raise his voice or show any sign of discomfort. When he was alone, he whistled cheerfully or sang joyously: “In the winter when the wind blows…” No one remembers the song, and perhaps he made up the words or just mixed up some words to a song we would have recognized if we had known what it was—he did that some times, after all. My favorite was when he came in from church one Wednesday evening in 1992 as several family members reminisced around Granny’s bed and belted out, “When the roll is called beyonder I’ll be there!”
Gramps was never bored… If he didn’t have something to do, he would just recite a poem or sing a little ditty.
Yesterday upon the stair, I saw a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I surely wish he’d go away!
One morning, Mom took him to the hospital at 5:30 to prepare for back surgery. Waiting for surgery can get quite boring—I’ve done it many times—and for some reason hospitals don’t see fit to give adults toys to play with. Never mind… Gramps was perfectly capable of entertaining himself. He sat up on the edge of his bed, wearing his suit and tie, and sang:</pre>
Here I sit like a bird in the wilderness, Bird in the wilderness, Bird in the wilderness. Here I sit like a bird in the wilderness, waiting for something to do.
The other patients were not entertained. I just can’t understand why—Gramps’ singing always cheered me up!
Gramps had a reputation for being a prayer warrior. Whenever any of us was worried or something was pressing, we called and asked him to "get on the hotline". Granny wrote about his prayers in the collection she left on Mom’s computer.
The children still pray. They not only pray, they ask us to pray with them and for them. They seem to have confidence in Gerald's prayers. It's not unusual to receive a phone call, sometimes long distance, requesting that "Gramps get on the hotline".
Often the prayers have been answered. Was it because Gramps prayed, or because the children themselves exercised their faith and prayed? God knew all the time what the need was, but for some reason He wants us to unite our hearts, to recognize and voice the need. He is a prayer-answering God. He is also a faith-giving, reminding-us-to-pray God. He reminds us to pray for the need He wants to supply. He gives the faith, the prayer and the answer. What a wonderful God!
I learned many things from Gramps. I think the most important lesson he taught me was about compassion. Because of Gramps, I have learned what it means to love and serve others and to accept them as they are. I also credit Gramps with helping to instill in me the faith which is now so important to me. I would not be where I am today without God, and I am thankful that I had someone like Gramps to teach me who God is and how to love and serve Him. I miss you, Gramps! You will be remembered! Thank you for sharing God's message with the world and with your family.
Gramps would have been 91 years old this year... He'll spend his 91st birthday in heaven--singing the correct lyrics to all those songs he enjoyed so much. I have no doubt he's enjoying himself!