Forgive the deter from the story about our weekend in Forks, Washington, but I received bad news today that I cannot leave unacknowledged.
My grandpa Wally died. Wally was my mom’s dad. He was an immigrant from Germany who came to the US with his parents when he was, I believe, 6 years old. He was a farmer, a husband, and a father. Despite his struggles with alcoholism, he managed to beat his addiction – a feat that changed the family forever.
To me, he will always me the ornery old guy who would tease us all. Who taught me the joys of a nightly bowl of rocky road ice cream and to love good German sausage. To this day, I have high standards for both. Wally also introduced me to iced coffee – the only way he ever drank coffee. He did it first in my book.
He told great stories and loved to listen to them as well. And, when he enjoyed a story, he used such phrases as “well, son of a biscuit” and other funny phrases.
As a farmer, Wally showed me the difference between farming out of love versus to make a profit. I got to see animals up close the personal, where milk came from and the work involved, and saw things you could only see in the country like a litter of baby fox that he had rescued.
Wally loved his family – his wife, 9 kids, and 30+ grandkids. He was always there for his family. He took care of his mentally retarded brother until his brother’s death. He took in wayward grandkids and helped them get back on the straight and narrow. Even after retiring from farming, you would find him helping other farmers with harvest – or up at the Catholic church helping fix things – or playing cards with his friends. As a cousin once said, she hoped she could find a man like Wally.
Wally – you will be missed. And, your west coast grandkids will be raising a brat with sauerkraut in your honor. May you find a good card game in heaven and hear some great stories. You will be missed, but remembered fondly.