In 1920 my grandfather was born on a farm in Michigan to Scandinavian parents, their only child. He grew up to be a strong Christian, a hard worker, a lover of nature (and golf!), and a caring person.
Grandpa G was the one who taught me how to pluck a blade of grass, place it between the thumbs of my two-fisted-hand "sandwich," and blow... nature's interesting kazoo!
He pointed out various types of trees and birds. I think it was partly because of him that we always had bird- and tree-identifying books when I was growing up.
He was a quiet man, especially when he was hunting lightning bugs. He taught me and my sister to watch the bugs in the gloaming, to be able to see where they were flying when they weren't winking their soft yellow tail-lights. And then to sneak up on the bug, cup your hands, and lift them underneath the bug slowly and gently. The bug would alight on your hand or finger and pulsate the glow that bespoke of summertime. It was the closest I could get to actually touching the fairyland I read about in children's storybooks.
Every year Ashpenaz and I visited our H grandparents in Michigan, where they lived mere yards away from a small lake (which seemed large to us kids), we would help Gpa G with his morning rounds of filling the bird feeders and the suet feeder.
Somewhere we have this adorable photo of Ashes sitting at the foot of a tall, tall tree, pointing her face and cute nose upward as she looks into the sunshine. She's singing to herself. I believe Gpa G helped inspire in her an appreciation for the natural world God created.
When Gpa G told stories, he took his time, sifting through memories and choosing the right words to capture what he wanted to say. He passed on this passion for precision to my father. And I think in me the garrulousness of my mother combines with the love and care for details that Dad and Grandpa G always emulated. (Sometimes to my frustration!!)
Gpa G's delight in things didn't communicate so much via words but in his smile, the twinkle in his eye, the chuckle he'd give. My dad has some of that twinkle, I think, when he smiles.
I remember Gpa's hands... strong, slightly gnarled, a bit rough, long fingers... reaching out to turn a leaf over and show you its veins; separating a part of a pine cone to reveal the little seed concealed there; pulling gently on a hemlock branch to point out the new springtime growth of bright lime-green, soft needles.
I don't remember him ever responding with an angry word. He was a patient guy. He took his time. He was an observer and liked to take in things around him. Perhaps he didn't say all that he ever wanted to say in life. Perhaps he missed some things because he did take his time. But he loved us. He loved his wife. He loved his sons. He loved his daughters-in-law. He loved his grandchildren. He loved his friends, church family, co-laborers in volunteer efforts. And he loved his Lord... still does! Now he gets to be with Him face to face, always!!
Grandpa G died on February 28, 2008, around 10:30 p.m. Eastern, two days after turning 88 years old.
We miss him very much but know that someday we'll be reunited with him, to praise and worship our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, forever and ever! Amen! Maranatha!!