I just thought I would share a little about my grandpa today. He was best friends with my grandmother's brother and quite a bit older than her. He joined the Navy in WWII and one day when he was home visiting, he came by my grandma's house. She told him her brother wasn't home and the smooth talker that my grandpa is, he replied, "I didn't come here to see him, I came here to see you," and then asked her what she was doing that evening. My grandma was all flustered (she was still a high school girl, after all) but they went out.
He continued to come see her and take her out whenever he had a few days. From where he was stationed, he would hitch-hike with a trucker, take her out to dinner, drop her at her father's house with a kiss goodnight, and have to immediately turn around and hitch-hike back in order to make it back to base on time.
This went on until he asked her to marry him. Their wedding was him hitching to town, taking her to dinner and then to the Justice's house, where the Justice's wife was their witness. After they said "I do" the Justice's wife broke out champagne and they all had a toast. Then Grandpa took Grandma back to her father's house and hitchhiked back to his base again.
Once they were out at sea, Grandpa would send her secret coded messages. He was in the same unit as her bffs boyfriend and they were constantly telling them things like, "Go stay with your mom's friend for a week," or whatever, and they would be like, "Oh well that person lives in suchandsuch town, so that must be where they will be coming in to port." (They weren't allowed to give away where the ship would be in case the letters got intercepted, so this was the guys secret code to their girls.)
When my uncle was born, Grandpa didn't even know if he had a son or a daughter for almost three months. He didn't get to see my uncle until he was something like 6 months old. Grandma and her friend would hitch across the country, live out of motels, hang out at the docks. Just to see their guys.
My Grandpa tells this story about Pearl Harbor. Their ship came in to the port about two days after the attack. Red Cross had run out of supplies. The men were wearing torn and dirty clothes and had no food or water. My grandpa was in charge of his ship's general store and when they came in, the survivors of Pearl Harbor bought out the whole store. Everything, completely emptied it out down to the last nut and bolt. Afterwards, my grandpa took all the money the ship's store made that day and walked down to the Red Cross station and handed the money over to them.
After the war, they bought the only corner store in the whole "village" (it's about four streets that intersect in the middle of the country - my grandpa is listed on the official record books as one of the founders of the township now). They ran the store together, my uncle sitting up on the counter, greeting people when they came in to buy their milk. My grandpa also worked as an insurance salesman, but he couldn't handle the stress of it - trying not to let people make their claims was not how he wanted to help people, I guess.
So then he bought the family farm. This is where he raised all three of his boys. My dad can tell you a million stories about the different cows (his favorite was Bessie) and horses (Queenie was the one that threw my dad right off the first time he claimed he could ride her) and all the barn cats (the one that would sneak into your car and try to ride home with you).
My Grandpa worked that farm my whole life. When I was a kid they finally got rid of the pigs and cows and turned it completely into a beans/corn farm. He was out there, on his tractor, plowing the fields. My cousins lived down the road from him, growing up - and they would get the call it was time to come out and pick the rocks, Grandpa was getting out the plow.
In high school, I worked not far from The Farm and whenever my little brother and I wanted to be pampered, we would go there for dinner. Sometimes my brother would come with me to work so that we could go to The Farm afterwards just to eat dinner with them. My Grandpa is a excellent cook and he has this cookbook, old and falling apart with all his recipes in them. My little brother was the cook in our family, when he was about 14, after my parents divorced. He was a good cook and he would go out to see Grandpa and they would go over recipes together and my brother would copy down a new one to take home and try out on us.
My grandpa was diagnosed with Parkinson when I was a kid and he never let it slow him down. He had a stroke about two years ago and yet, still last summer, at the age of 90, he was out painting the barn - because it had to get done and that's just how my grandpa rolls.
My grandpa is absolutely the one person I know that I can say is my hero. More than any famous person, actor, inventor, politician - my grandpa is my #1 hero.
Sadly, he had a second stroke a few weeks back and his health has taken a serious decline and he had to go into a rehab center. I don't really want to go into all the details right now, because this is a post about how awesome my grandpa is - but the stress of this is why I haven't been posting much lately. Though I have lots of things to say to all of you. (I have the best story about The Nephew to share).
Anyway, my grandpa is awesome and I love him and I just wanted to share that with you.