with honour

Everyone has heroes. Some choose to honour those they’ve never met. Others choose to honour and show respect for those that first show them honour and/or respect. While I would never choose to tell anyone how to do anything, I choose my heroes carefully.

I grew up in a small town in Wyoming. Approximately 5000 souls through most of my childhood. A very agricultural farming and ranching community. My dad grew up a block from the house where I did. His parents still lived there throughout my childhood and have until today.

My grandmother is a wonderful lady. There were many days as a child that I spent in the company of my grandmother, playing carom or some other game. She was a kind but strong personality to a young boy, and those are traits she still holds today.

My grandfather was rarely at home during those times as he was at work during the daytime hours. However, he was also a huge part of my upbringing.

My grandfather has always fascinated me. He grew up during the 20’s and 30’s. His family moved into Wyoming during the years of the depression. He came in the back of a wagon. He’s been a cowboy, a soldier, a city employee and a railroader. More importantly, he was grandpa.

My dad would tell stories of the man that had sacrificed so much in order to provide for his family. The man who might possibly have taken a small caliber rifle and shot deer by the light of the moon in order to feed his family when no other way could be found. The man I knew to give when he had nothing to give.

My father and grandpa traipsed across mountains with me teaching me how to hunt in order to provide for our family. How to respect the animals and the land and to keep it clean even before this was a popular idea.

My grandpa, leading me with a fishing pole in hand and a creel over his shoulder pointing out the ripples in the river around a large rock, telling me, “If you can drop your hook right there, there is a rainbow trout ready to come take your bait.” He was right.

My grandpa never seemed to look at the tragic parts of life as I grew up. Just the challenges. And somehow he always seemed to perceiver. He would never back down. He was a fighter that never doubted he was in the right. He was also a prankster that enjoyed a good joke, and yes, sometimes those jokes HURT!

My grandpa has a box full of medals he brought back from THE war. World War II. A purple heart among them. He never speaks of them. He has only spoken of the war to me twice. He’d never watch a war movie. He was ground forces in Germany. He never needed Hollywood’s version.

My grandpa was always there for me. After years of effort, he finally had saved enough to retire on. As a newly graduated college kid, he lent me the money so I could buy my coveted (though used) Trans Am. “Just don’t let it take you so far away you can’t find your way back.” He told me as he handed me the check.

Today I lost my grandpa. The last several years he had fought a battle with Alzheimer’s. He was so afraid. I saw his cheer leave to be replaced with dread. “Don’t grow old,” he told me not long ago. Well, grandpa beat “the Alzheimer’s” for the most part. Though he lost some memories, he never lost those he cherished. In the end, it was cancer that took his life. I went home in March to visit him, knowing that time was short. I traveled with him to the doctor in Cheyenne, 70 miles away. He sat in the backseat holding my Grandma’s hand. My dad drove. With his other hand, he held mine. We talked. We even laughed a time or two.

Then the doctor gave us the news that there was no sense doing deep level tests because grandpa wouldn’t survive. Best to try to just make him comfortable. Two days later I was there to help daddy take grandpa to the hospital after a bad spell at home. I was there when grandpa walked out of his house for the last time. I was there when he entered the attached nursing home. Where he would spend his last days.

But I wasn’t there today. And I so wish I had been. Treasure those you love. Hold them. Tell them.

I love you grandpa.

Comment Pages

There are 5 Comments to "with honour"

  • Thomas says:

    sympathies, hugs, prayers & love

  • Val says:

    Oh man, I’m so sorry. *hugs* Thinking of you and your family today.

  • Charlie says:

    Respects & condolences to you and your family. May flights of angels sing him to his rest.

  • Sterling says:

    I’m normally not a very emotional person, but your post brought tears to my eyes.

    You are so very fortunate. I never knew either of my grandfathers, though at least my maternal one supposedly knew me. I was very young when he passed.

    I often hear great stories about them, but I don’t know them. In fact it was only with in the last year or two that I had even seen a picture of my paternal grandfather. The one I’d love to talk to and ask sooo many questions of. The one who had left this world before I had even entered it.

    My heartfelt sympathies extend to you and yours and I am glad that you had a chance to know him and you are right he is indeed one of a rare breed these days – an honest but human hero.

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