A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend Paul and I traveled to North Dakota for the funeral of his grandpa. I never got to meet him, but I enjoyed hearing all the family memories and seeing pictures of his life (and his beautiful guitar). It got me thinking about my own grandparents, who are all gone now.
I suppose every family has secrets, and drama, and feuds. But today, I want to share some good memories of my maternal grandfather, Ralph Peterson.
Good things I remember:
- He was 6’4″. To this day, when I have to calculate the size of something I picture how many Grampas end-to-end. (60 feet=10 Grampas.)
- He drove a school bus. Nearly everyone in Cook rode this bus. He parked it in the basement of the house he built–the house I’ve raised my kids in, too. Everybody who goes to the Cook end of Lake Vermilion has seen this house. It’s kind of a landmark. We used to sit on the stone steps and wave to the tourists.
- He had one lung (tuberculosis took one), and one kidney (cancer, I think).
- He built wagons for Lois and I. (He and Gramma Marge cared for us while our parents worked.) These wagons had brakes and steering, and went like hell down the gravel pit banks.
- At his house, there was a plastic school bus toy, a life-sized doll with red hair, and four million National Geographic magazines.
- He let me have Hamburger Soup (Campbell’s Sirloin Burger) anytime I wanted, and gave me all his little hamburgers.
- He drove his green Ford pickup SLOWLY because it took less gas, (he remembered rationing well) and had a whisk broom in it to sweep out the sand.
- He smiled a LOT.
- He liked to grow things. My garden is now in the same spot, and the apple and plum trees, asparagus, and chives feed our family to this day. Many of his perennial flowers are still here, too: tiger lilies, campanula glomerata, rugosa roses, and lilacs.
- His brother Uno lived next door in their parents’ original homestead (The Funny Farm), where my sister lives now). Uno was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Grampa maintained that place, too. We’d visit Uncle Uno several times a day, driving through the gravel pit that’s between the homes. We got to ride in the back of the truck sometimes, since we weren’t going on the highway. Sometimes we walked the deer trails through the woods to get there also. My kids have run those trails too, and I love the continuity that comes with living here.
This is a WordPress Gallery of my favorite pictures of Grampa Ralph. Clicking on any picture will start a slide show, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Here’s another gallery of green things I found while we were hunting on Sunday.
I’d love to hear your stories about my Grampa or yours… Like, share, or comment if you enjoyed this. Pleeeease?