I never imagined writing something about my Grandpa. Not that I thought he would live forever, I just never made a reality in my mind of when he would be gone. I assumed he would live many more years and I would sift through all the memories then. Later in my life. Not right now, anyway. This past week I’ve been at work most of the days and have been grateful for the distraction. But now I’m supposed to bring memories forth from where they’ve been drifting around unorganized. Well then. I’m going to sound like a less poetic version of I Remember Mama, but I don’t care.
I remember when Grandpa visited from California. It was Easter time. We were shopping in what was then Meier and Franks and there were these stuffed animal bunnies dressed in pink floral jumpers in a basket. He bought one just for me and “Bunny” stayed by my side for years and years afterward. Whenever Grandpa visited after that, he made sure to ask how Bunny was doing and I would bring Bunny out and he would hold her and talk to her like a person. Poor Bunny has been sewn back together many times and her jumper is no longer pink, but she will always be special to me because Grandpa and I made her a REAL bunny, just like the velveteen rabbit.
I remember camping in their motorhome in the towering redwoods. He had this huge horrible wooden spider fastened to the curtain by the table and told me to be good or the spider was going to get me. I never would touch it, or sit next to it if I could help it, even though I knew it was fake. He made my sister and I beds up in the bunk and told us scary stories of how bigfoot was out there and was going to come get us. I knew he was teasing because his eyes would twinkle and his mouth would twitch, but I would still get a shiver wondering WHAT IF bigfoot really was out there and was going to turn over the motor home in my sleep?!
I remember countless fishing trips with him. Trolling around Lake Merwin for Kokanee and anchored for Steelhead Salmon at the mouth of the Lewis River. One time in particular was exciting. I had a fish on, but could not reel it in for the life of me. We drifted much farther than usual, and when Grandpa finally reeled the fish close enough to net it, we realized it had been caught by the hook in the middle, and we had been reeling it in sideways! No wonder it pulled us so far. It cracked him up and he could talk of nothing else all day.
I remember how once when fishing he asked if I like barbecue chips. I wasn’t too keen on them, but I said, yes, I liked them. Ever afterward, there would be sure to be a bag of barbecue chips in the cooler, just for me! I obligingly ate a lot of them and he never knew they were my least favorite ever.
I remember he was a Pepsi guy. The cooler on the boat would be full of them and to this day I cannot have a Pepsi without also smelling fresh air, barbecue chips and fresh fish.
I remember how he almost always called Dairy Queen, “Dairy Freeze.” Once I knew what he meant, I never corrected him but smiled and replied, “Sure, I’d love to stop for ice cream.”
I remember how much he loved Christmas and how he gave my sisters and I special ornaments each year when we were young.
I remember how much he loved food and cooking. He made the best macaroni and cheese. Mustacholi was a favorite and with every dinner, french bread with lots of butter. He loved barbecuing and would find me a nice juicy piece of steak and then trim it for me and take all the “ickies” off. He loved Mexican food and made the best chili verde.
I remember when he picked a spot to anchor for steelhead, he would make sure to go only by certain fishermen, so that my little girl ears wouldn’t hear any swearing.
I remember how much he loved kites and I was so excited when he brought his man legs to fly. The legs looked so silly next to all the sleek colorful ones, but the legs were all I had eyes for. They just tickled me pink.
I remember just the way he used to call me Ambie. I can hear his voice, even now, “Ready to go fishing, Ambie?” “Hows Bunny, Ambie?” “You all ready to go camping, Ambie?”
Yes, Grandpa. I’m all ready to go with you. I’ll miss you until the day I can explore paradise with you.