Remembering Family We've Lost
Hello there readers: Memorial Day has recently passed, which is the day we are supposed to remember the loved ones we've lost. I can remember when I was a child, riding in the car with my mom and her mom and dad to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of people I didn't know or remember. How could I honor their memories if I didn't know them? I was brought along because I was too young to stay home alone. When I asked my Grandma why I had to go with them, I can remember her saying, "Because I want you here with me." I knew that I was her favorite grandson because she spoiled me, so I just accepted being there with her.
I have lots of fond memories of Grandma. Her face would light up with a big smile whenever she saw me, which made me feel safe in her arms. She used to love her soaps and her game shows. I would usually find something to do till the game shows came on. We would watch The Price Is Right together, bidding against each other all the way up to the showcases at the end of the show. She loved that show. I remember that for lunch she would make tuna sandwiches. She knew I didn't like dill pickles and she would make them with sweet pickles instead. Grandma was a wonderful cook. She would have us all over for holiday meals, which is something I miss. Our family lost the best matriarch ever. Rest in peace Grandma.
Her wonderful loving husband, my Grandpa, was someone who loved me very much too. He used to pick up mom and me in the mornings, taking her to the bus stop so she could get to work on time. Grandpa would take me to this family restaurant in town before school and I would order the cinnamon toast with a hot chocolate. He would drink coffee, eating a butterhorn with it. He was a pillar of the community, and he knew what seemed like everyone in town. No matter where we would go, someone would always holler out, "Hi Art!" He always had a smile and a kind word to say.
He lived on a 14-acre farm, which I also called home because I spent so much time there. I would go out in the fields eating wild blackberries while Grandpa was out riding around on the tractor taking care of the land. He would sometimes let me drive it, which was a treat that I loved! He passed away before Grandma did, when I was just a 12-year-old boy. She passed later when I was 19.
Growing up with these wonderful people, I have to say that they were the glue that helped keep me together. Grandpa was the best example of a male role model that I had. He loved my Grandma so very much. I miss you so very much Grandpa! Rest in peace.
The other person's memory I will honor is a man I called "my uncle" who was I think a cousin? His name was Les Anderson, and he lived up in Soldotna, Alaska. I mention him by name because he is in the history books as the man who caught the world-record Chinook salmon in the Kenai River on May 17, 1985. He was 68 years old the day he caught that fish. Google him to honor his memory with me. The record fish still stands today at 97 lbs., 4 oz. That man had such an infectious laugh and smile. Not once in all the years did I ever see him with anything but a smile on his face.
After I landed in the penitentiary in Salem, Oregon, and he was in town with his second wife visiting family, he would make it a point to stop in to see me. His face would light right up whenever he would visit, encouraging me to keep my head up. When our family lost him in 2003, it was a huge loss, same as losing Grandpa and Grandma. I was in prison, and I cried when I heard the news. Rest in peace Uncle Les.
My father passed away in a care facility on April 19, 2015, due to health complications that could have been prevented if he wasn't so stubborn. He didn't like the idea of going to the doctor. I have lots of memories of him -- some good and some not so good. Who can honestly say that all their memories of their father are good? I will say this ... in his last ten years on this planet, our relationship got better and we were closer than we ever were.
The biggest kudos I will give him is that when I was going through trial he had confidence in my innocence. He was there for every appearance I made to support me through that rough time. For that I thank him! I love you dad. I miss you. Rest in peace.
On Memorial Day, if you can't make it to a cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of people you loved and miss, I want to encourage you to tell someone a fond memory of those people, just as I have told you about my family that has passed on.
Stay healthy and stay safe,