An Ode to My Grandfather
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on May 20th, 2012
My grandfather passed away yesterday at the age of 98. Thought I would link to something he wrote that I found on Google. The Management of Pin Oak in a Duck Shooting Area. Of course, you didn’t know him. He has been out of circulation for the last couple of years. It’s been hard to watch his decline. I suppose it’s like that with anyone.
His specialty was the forests of the upper midwest and lower midwest. It’s where he spent his career. He even has books you can buy on Amazon. I am sure he didn’t know that and would be tickled about it.
He loved the woods. He spent his life in them. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and finally met my grandmother. She was from Boscobel, Wisconsin. Their first home was a forest service cabin on a lake. My grandmother had to go out onto the frozen lake and bust through the ice to get water for the cabin! Like most people in government work during his generation, he moved around. Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois and finally Minnesota. They stayed married until she passed away on December 31, 2008. She was 98.
I have traveled through many of the places that they lived. “They”, because there wasn’t really a “he” or “she” in the relationship. You couldn’t have one without the other. After my grandma passed away, my grandfather would kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep. They are together again now.
They lived in some great places if you like the outdoors. Southern Ohio on the West Virginia border is one of the prettiest places in the US if you haven’t been there. Especially in the fall. Southern Illinois near Carbondale can be pretty. The reason he was there was because he was an expert in restoring land that was strip mined. He worked out of the SIU Carbondale campus, and I have been told he is responsible for planting what was known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail there! But his favorite place was the Lake Superior National Forest. It was where his first job was.
When he retired, he built a cabin in the northwoods next to his best friend’s cabin. They called it Gebome, Gen Bob Merz. Sounds Indian. Fit perfect because their place in the woods became them. It kept them young. He was chopping wood up there until around 6 years ago, when he was 92. If you haven’t been up to northern Minnesota, you owe yourself a trip.
It’s different than other coastlines. Rugged and rocky like the Scandinavians that settled it. Plus, at the end of the long journey up, there is a nice donut shop to relax at.
The cabin doesn’t have running water. There is a spring on a hill, and gravity pushes water into the cabin. Tastes great. It has no electricity, and when we added solar power sometime in the 1990′s it was revolutionary. There isn’t a phone line, and you can forget about the internet! You can add all that stuff today, but we never have yet. Maybe someday. When we are up there, we garden, chop wood and trees, hike, swat mosquitoes, and in the evening we fish for walleye.
I have been extremely lucky to have a grandfather for 50 years. Some people don’t even know their fathers that long. Everyone’s grandfather is different. It’s a unique relationship. At the beginning of my relationship with mine, I obviously couldn’t talk. He got cool stuff for me. I have a signed Smokey the Bear print somewhere. He wrote me letters. In them, he would talk about how there was a mouse named Erasmus that lived in his woodpile. Erasmus loved baseball. Every time I would go up there I would look for Erasmus, and would never find him. When I was old enough to know better, it was a joke between us. From time to time, Erasmus would report on Spring Training, and the goings on of the day. Erasmus was a Minnesota Twins fan, and was particularly excited in 1987 and 1991.
I guess Erasmus will have to move in with me and be a Cubs fan now. Sorry Erasmus. My friend in high places with the Cubs says we will be able to get fired up soon.
Because of how my grandparents were, they knew my wife really well. They knew my kids. Instead of being passive, they interacted with them and developed unique relationships with them. They showed us it was possible to have a lot of fun, even if you were old. They really didn’t slow down until they were in their mid-nineties.
As my grandfather aged, and then became infirm, we couldn’t communicate anymore. He never could learn to use a computer. His hearing went, so I couldn’t call him. He lost the ability to write well, so he couldn’t write. We were reduced to seeing each other in person when we could, and I would try and write him a letter once a week. Interesting how life progresses isn’t it?
Obviously, you cannot sum up ones life neatly in a blog post. There are just too many things that happened over the course of 98 years. But, I guess the lesson we learn is that we need to find someway to develop a relationship with our families on their terms. In the beginning, he wrote me letters, visited and talked to me even though I couldn’t talk back. In the end, the roles were reversed. Along the way, instead of trying to force things with me, he interacted with me on the terms that I set. Maybe we all should do that with everyone? There might be a lot more listening going on.
The last letter I wrote him was right around my birthday, May 8. I was 50. He was 98. He was 48 when I was born. It hasn’t been normal the past few years, but just the same, I will miss him.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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