Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Few Days in Idaho - Part 1

I took a quick trip to Idaho last week to see my step-grandfather, who just turned 93 years old. He is an amazing man. He fought in WWII and was among the first troops to land on Omaha Beach. The stories he tells about that day are heartbreaking. But he survived uninjured and went to work for the VA when he got home. He spent 28 years there. He wanted to take us to see where he used to work, so we drove up to his old office, which is in a beautiful old brick building at the edge of a huge, green park. He decided to go in and talk to the people who work there now. We were a little unsure about how he would be received. He went in alone and came out 5 minutes later. When he walked out the door and headed twoard the van, a guy stuck his head out at us and waved. He was shaking his head and laughing. Which made us wonder what my gandpa said to them. We asked him how the office looked. "Oh hell, that place is a damn mess." he said. That was it. End of the conversation.

I have to say, that is about as negative a comment as you will ever hear come out of his mouth. He's not a negative guy. Which is good for us. We tend to see the glass half empty. He's been a good example and he's a very uplifting person to be around. He is pretty much a happy guy, with good things to say about his life, his family and his country. He had a lot of reasons to be negative if he had wanted to be. He grew up very poor, had to quit school to take care of his family and lived through very hard times during the depression and then the war. But he chose to look at the good and focus on what was right in his life and he and my grandmother had a grand retirement and enjoyed life to the fullest. She was his 2nd wife. They met at the VA. She was a nurse, he was in supplies. It was a great love story and it's hard for him that she's gone. She took good care of him.

He lives with his sister-in-law now, who also takes good care of him. She is also an amazing woman. She is 73. She gets up every morning at 5:30 to cook breakfast for her son and sometimes her grandson. Yeah, you read right. She cooks them breakfast before they go to work. Like eggs and bacon. Or homemade biscuits with sausage gravy. I gripe about making toast some mornings! Then she goes outside to work in her garden. Where she grows these:
and these

and these, among other things.

Then she picks them and cans them.

After she's done in the garden she goes back in to cook breakfast for my grandpa. About 9:00 a.m. Then sometimes she goes back out to the garden, or she finishes her canning or cleans house or runs errands. After lunch she starts dinner for her son and maybe her grandson and my grandpa and whoever else stops by. This 73 year old woman does more in one day than I do in a week! I asked her how she does it all. Know what she said? "You just do it! I just get out of bed and get to it. I don't think about why. I just do it. I've worked hard all my life and don't know any different." Know what she used to do? She used to work at the family dairy farm, getting up at 2 a.m. to milk cows. She also worked at the local sugar plant bagging and packing brown sugar. In between all that she managed to decorate cakes for people's weddings. While raising kids. oh yeah! She also took care of her brother with Down's Syndrome until he passed away at age 57!! She says she's slowed down since her husband and brother passed and she retired. Really?

After leaving Idaho, which by the way was nice and cool and green and I loved every minute of it, I came home with a greater resolve to be happier, work harder, give more and to cook better meals. It lasted about 1 day. I caught a cold on the plane, my little guy keeps messing with a fever that won't make up its mind about whether to stay or go away and the homework and chores didn't seem to get done while I was gone. Is it written somewhere that husbands lose their brains when wives go out of town? Mine had to call me because he couldn't find the butter. I should have known that anything beyond that, like homework and chores, would just be too hard.

Despite all the catch up and feeling cruddy? I resolve to try to stay more positive and follow the example of two people who are 30-50 years older than me. I want to work harder, to appreciate what I have and to see the things that are right in my life instead of focusing on all the things that I think are wrong. Excuse free living? Is HARD, people!

Oh yeah...remind me to tell you about getting the tomatoes from Darlene's garden home on the plane. Funny story.


Banner said...

Yeah, I had the crud by the time I got in bed that night. You will be writing about Ma Russell and the get away car won't you? (MINI-VAN???)

Kristi said...

I love Idaho...what part did you go and visit? The older generation constantly amaze me...they are seriously all butt kickers. We are all a bunch of lazy whiners, and those guys just get er done. makes me tired just thinking about everything she does on a daily basis...I guess I better go and lay down. :)

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