I remember when...
In life, we all have role models or hero's that we look up to. People that make us feel special, secure, challenge us or provide us with lessons and examples that we attempt to live our life by.
When my hand could barely reach all the way around the index finger of my grandfathers hand. He would always tell me I was getting bigger as my grip grew and became stronger. When I was young this is how he would take me places. By letting me hold that one finger. Secure enough to know he was there, yet not coddled over or in tow. Security... its important when you are a kid.
I was his first grandchild and we were very close. He attended every birthday I had. He and my grandmother were always present in my life as a child, teen and young adult. I learned so much from him. He graduated from OU in 1922 as Salutatorian in Business and Finance. He worked for the Burrows company for years. Later in life he invented the pressure valve for oil wells and the high-pressure wand used in coin operated car-washes. He dabbled in building and construction and retired at the ripe old age of 50 so he could focus on his family and grand kids.
That as a kid I would hang out with him. He took me to the stock market, told me how business worked, taught me about the value of money, credit and why its important to have some. He would proudly introduce me to his friends at the bank. I always felt older and walked a little taller when I was around him. I can only recall twice in my entire life when I upset him. There are few events other than those two times that have generated more tears. His unconditional love, support and acceptance was so very important to me.
When I would visit in the summers as a kid he would have projects for US to do. Painting the fence out back, fixing things for my grandmother... odds and ends. These weren't projects for me to watch, these were projects for me to DO. Always beside me mentoring, whispering in my ear.... hold the brush loosely, use more paint, smaller fluid strokes for even coverage. I learned and thrived in this environment. To this very day, my mother and father (neither of which are very handy) are amazed at the things I do in my garage or around my house. I remind them they did pay for my education in Architecture and if I could design buildings I could build them or fix them. The truth was, my grandfather taught me. What he didn't teach he instilled the confidence in me to try and do on my own. Always there whispering in my ear, providing the gentle guidance I needed.
When I wanted to take up model trains at about 12. It wasn't my dad who did this with me, but my grandfather. My dad was very poor when he was a kid, and he had a work ethic like no other. He worked 6 days a week on his business and he wanted to provide for his family better than his father did for his. So he worked. With no formal education to speak of, he and his two brothers grew up to be VERY successful. My grandfather always respected my dad. Since my dad's real father left them when he was very young, my grandfather acted more like a father to him than a father-in-law. They were close. When I was bothered or upset about not seeing my dad (he left real early and worked real late) it was my grandfather who reminded me that he was doing it right and taking care of his family. Mentoring me... teaching me the values I would carry on in life.... and eventually pass along to my son.
When he would send me letters, hand written telling me how proud he was of me, and how much he and my grandmother would love to see me. After all Lubbock was only two hours away from Midland. How he gently reminded me I was welcome any time. (to this very day, I regret not spending more of that time with them while I was there). I remember his persistent support, faith in me and his guidance. Strong when he needed to be, gentle at all other times. Teaching me, when to be firm, when to be fair and when to be kind.
When he held my son for the first time. The only time he ever saw him. I remember the one picture I have of him with my son at my parents house. The dreams I had of having this amazing man do for my son what he did for me and having to realize that it wouldn't be.
My 29th birthday when I delivered his eulogy. It was the last one he made it too, and in a church, on a Saturday before all of his friends and our family I tried to muster the courage to say goodbye. No loss could have been greater, no pain more sever. All the while, my son in the back of the church cried. Summing up ever so eloquently what I could not.
To this very day, I wear his masons ring. I'm not supposed to, but I do. It keeps him close to me. He's with me everywhere I go. Much like the coin I have in my pocket that sports the year of my fathers birth. We collected coins together and its something we both do. He's close to me... I can look and remember, the stories, the support, the direction the love.
Sentimental, yes. I am. More than anything....
I am thankful for the time I had, the influence, the direction, the lessons and for the fact that I can
I wrote this one this afternoon... I forgot his ring today. Something I never do. In doing so, it caused me to think and remember. So rather than wait... I wrote. When we all leave this world all that is left are these memories. The feelings of those that have touched our lives, made a difference and someone made us better or stronger. All this from forgetting to wear a ring because I was late for work. I miss him.