Grandpa has been there for me from the very beginning. He was the assisting doctor when I was born, and I'd like to think that he's the one who deserves the credit for my awesome belly button.
I spent most of my childhood living two states east of Grandpa, but visiting Logan was the highlight of our summers. As soon as we arrived at Grandpa's house, I would run out back, straight to the currant bush. I loved to look behind the rocks for Oscar the snake, pick raspberries, deadhead the marigolds, and sit in the one-of-a-kind, aqua-colored reclining chair on his back porch. Grandpa taught us how to properly roast a hotdog and took us fishing. There were a number of things I could always count on arriving in the mail throughout the rest of the year: typed birthday letters with fresh dollar bills, squeaky cheese, and the best jerky ever.
I spent an extended amount of time at Grandpa's house with my dad during the summer of 1993. Grandma wanted help cleaning, but Grandpa put me to work in his garden. I learned how to tie the strings for beans and that twine should always be stored in and dispensed from a box. I learned about Linseed oil and that you always clean your tools before putting them away. I learned about Four O'Clock Flowers, how to thin lettuce, and that purslane was edible. I ate lots of fresh vegetables, pocket bread, and cooked wheat cereal, but he never converted me to lovage. Grandpa took me to the county fair and bought me a letter opener with a duck on the end of it.
We wrote letters back and forth and phone calls were frequent; we called Grandpa with all of our medical questions and Grandma and Grandpa always called to sing "Happy Birthday". Grandpa paid me to give up candy for one month; it just so happened to be the month of October.
My family moved to Logan in 1994 (for one year). We were blessed to participate in numerous family activities, including Rook Sunday. We heard the stories of Grandpa's childhood in Richfield, stories about his service in the Navy, and lots and lots of fish stories.
Grandpa started the Personal Penmanship Improvement Program, encouraging his grandchildren to improve their cursive handwriting. He rewarded each of us that completed with $100.
We went on a family trip to Fish Lake and I rode in his car. Every few minutes, he pointed at something out the window and announced that they don't make them any longer. Because they're already long enough.
Grandpa got an infection in his leg and was out of commission, so during the summer of 1996, I went to Logan to help with his garden. He taught me how to pick the best watermelon, that you should always line the bottom of your trash can with newspaper, and all sorts of other things. But most importantly, he taught me about kindness and generosity. He not only shared the amazing produce from his garden, but if he got a good cantaloupe from Albertson's, he'd insist on getting three more to share.
I graduated from high school and moved away from home when I was 17. Utah State University was the only school I considered because I wanted to live in Logan; I wanted to live by my grandparents. My older brother and sister were both out of the country on LDS missions, but my grandparents were always there for me. I could count on them for food, for advice, and for a bottom-to-top ice cream cone, regardless of the hour. (I didn't know anyone else with grandparents who were up past midnight.)
Grandpa came to my apartment at Cambridge Court and helped me plant two tomato plants because you should always have access to Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. He spoke to my ward's Relief Society about his service in the Logan Temple Presidency. He talked to me about the importance of finding a good partner. When I started working at The Skyroom, he came to the buffet on Thursdays. Before long, he was taking his friends and all of my Logan cousins to lunches at The Skyroom.
Grandpa gave me my first grape crates. Grandpa made me Cackleberry Delight. And Grandpa regularly called me (early in the morning) to come over and see how beautiful his Mr. Lincoln Rose was, how tall his zebra grass was growing, or how many new blooms were on his Christmas Cactus. Every time I pulled away from his home, he and Grandma would walk out the driveway and wave as I honked twice.
Grandpa taught me about personal revelation. He taught me about making pros and cons charts. He taught me about prayer. Grandpa was very involved in my decision to stay in Logan during the summer of 2001, which turned out to be the summer I fell in love.
Grandpa was a fan of Steve from the very beginning. He quickly put him to work trimming the humongous Blue Spruce that was preventing his garden from getting enough sunlight. He fed us, he counseled us, he taught us by example as he showed us how to love. And then he sealed us in the Logan LDS Temple. I'm guessing there aren't too many people out there who can say that they were married by the same person who delivered them. He talked to us about our choices, opportunities, and challenges. And instead of a magic pill, he offered a magic formula spelled H A R M O N Y. We enjoyed countless delicious meals with Grandma and Grandpa. And he always saved his best jerky for Steve.
At 90 years old, Grandpa still wasn't slowing down. Every time I saw him, he asked if I knew where he could get a new clock with 28 hours in it. With the purchase of each of our homes, he came and inspected the yard and helped us draw out a garden map, advising us where to plant each and every vegetable. And he always encouraged us to plant a Moraine Honey Locust Tree.
After much deliberation, he gave up his electronic typewriter and bought a computer. He also purchased a copy of Computer Basics for Dummies and was determined to learn how to operate that machine. He called with questions, daily.
Grandpa was always prepared for visits from my kids. He would ask them to sing a song or recite a poem, encouraging them to develop public speaking skills. He kept small boxes of raisins and balloons to give them.
Grandpa encouraged our decision to open Sonora Grill, even though it would take us away from Logan, away from him. Steve told him he ordered in a special table, and the round, copper table in the private dining room was thereby named "Grandpa's Table".
Grandma passed on, and I wasn't sure Grandpa would survive without his sweetheart. He was a devoted husband who recognized and appreciated her talents. But he pushes on, determined to endure to the end.
Grandpa hasn't been so active over the last several years. Confined to a wheelchair and often tired, but still eager for our visits. (Especially if Steve is with me.) I asked him if he'd like to see a few pictures from our trip to Thailand, and he ended up looking through every single one of them. . . all 3000 photos. And then he asked if I'd come back and show them to him again without my kids talking in the background.
Every time I call Grandpa, he asks where I am and tells me I sound like I'm right next door. He still ends his all of his phone calls with, "We love you!"
The last time I saw him, Grandpa told me he wasn't sure why he was still alive.
But I am immensely grateful that he is.
I am thankful for the example that he has been to me in my life and thankful that my children have been able to learn from him as well.
This world is a better place because of my grandpa. (And his use of exclamation marks!!!)
I love you, Grandpa!
Photos by Molly Jones Photography, 2009.