Smells are a funny thing; they have an ability to take us back to the recesses of our memories and remind us of events and of loved ones after so many years. Coffee grounds remind me of the worm box at Forest Lake, Minnesota where my maternal grandparents had a lake cabin at which I spent many summers as a young boy. Pipe tobacco…the smell of a lake…gasoline from a boat engine…and bullheads…all remind me of my grandparents and I hope to bring these memories to you.
I remember that I always liked being with him; no matter what we were doing. I remember taking row boat rides with him and sitting in lawn chairs watching water skiers on the Fourth of July. I remember taking walks with him at the lake for many reasons including taking egg shells and coffee grounds to his worm box, looking for mushrooms to eat for breakfast, or to simply show me something in nature and teach me about it.
I remember sitting alongside of him in the living room of my parent’s house as together we looked through a large picture window across the street as he pointed out to me the variety of ducks and other wildlife that he was able to see.
He had leukemia for around thirteen years and got it when he was an old man. He gave his body to the University of Minnesota while he was still alive to be used to test new medicines in an effort to find a cure for this type of cancer that takes so many young children.
His death was a pivotal defining moment in my life that caused me to become a very angry person; angry at God for taking him away from me when he died when I was in junior high school. I wasn’t ready to let go of this great man; who would’ve made a great mentor to me as an artist.
I loved staying overnight at the cabin and at their house because she too always made me feel welcomed. She liked gardens. She was a great grandmother who would insist that I put BOTH sugar and honey on my corn flakes when we would stay with her. I still put honey on my cornflakes today in memory of her love for me.
She had a good sense of humor and let us tease her and play tricks on her; like changing name tags that we wore for her benefit as she got older. She liked gardens and flowers and her yards always looked nice. She was ALWAYS dressed up in a classy way. I still remember the smell of her perfume; but don’t ask me because I can’t recall the name of it.
She died around one year after my grandpa; the doctor told us that it was due to the fact that she missed her husband so very much. When she was alive she told me that oftentimes she could still “hear his voice” and could almost see him even though he wasn’t there.
Their impact on my life is part of the impetus for me to be a outstanding grandfather to my grandchildren; for me to love as I was loved. I am grateful to be able to share them with you today.