November 27, 2011

Memory Lane Monday - Remembering Grandpa...

L-r: My great-grandfather, Percy; unknown; and my grandfather LaVerne. circa 1927.
He was born in Buena Vista, Wisconsin on January 11, 1911, was forty three years old when I became his first grandchild. He was 16 in this picture. It was taken in my great-grandfather's garage. This was before the building burned to the ground, necessitating a complete rebuild not long after.

Grandpa always worked with his hands and he was a genius when it came to building or repairing anything mechanical. But he had other talents, as well.
Grandpa was also well-versed in the fine arts of pickling and wine-making. He made some fierce dandelion, currant, gooseberry and grape wine (to name but a few).

When we'd visit my grandparents, he'd delight in bringing out jugs of his favorites (especially if they'd fermented for a few years) so that Mum could be his taste-tester. He'd sit with a wide grin on his face, offering her a jigger at a time, and watching her get silly from all those little sips.
I now own two of Grandpa's crocks. One has a two gallon capacity and the other is a beautiful twenty gallon crock with metal bands. I have them where I see them every day, and not one day passes that I'm not reminded of him.
I adored this man. He was hard-working, and although he could turn a room blue with his colorful language, he never raised his voice or passed a cross word with me.
Grandpa and me. Taken 1995 in Cedar Grove, WI
When Handsome and I still lived in Wisconsin, I was only about a half hour away from the nursing home where he spent his sunset years. I'd visit him at least once a week, and ask him to tell me stories from the days working in Alaska, where he helped build the Al-Can Highway. They were stories he was always happy to share with me. Stories of bears, the great outdoors, big machines and his adventurous life in "the wild". I knew he frequently embellished those stories for me, but I didn't care. 

He lost his right thumb as a child, and it wasn't until he passed that Grandma finally told me the true story. (He always said that she cut it off in a fit of pique, but we all knew that wasn't true!) When he and I spent all those hours chatting and sharing the past, he'd punctuate his stories with that left hand held in the air, fingers wrapped around the stub of his thumb. If I close my eyes, I can see him to this very day.

As we parted at the end of each visit, I'd always ask him if he wanted me to bring anything when I returned. He'd always say, "No, Honey. Everything is copacetic. See you next week." As I headed for the door he'd add, "But if you'd like to bring a couple of O'Henry bars with you, that would be nice." I always brought them for him. (From time to time, I'll eat an O'Henry bar in his memory now.)

He died January 15, 1999, only a few hours' drive from his birthplace. I was at his side, holding his hand. As his eldest granddaughter, I was honored to give the eulogy at his funeral. It gave me the opportunity to share my memories of his gigantic personality with his many friends and family.

It's with great affection that I share just a small portion of my memories today. I'm proud to have been his granddaughter, but more than that I'm proud to have been a part of the life of this honest man.
Thank you for joining me for another Memory Lane Monday. If you have a memory you'd like to share, please link up your post below.


  1. This is such a loving and beautiful tribute to your Grandpa. The photo of the two of you together is one to cherish. Wonderful memories dear...

  2. What a wonderful post, Donna! I don't remember the last time I saw an O'Henry bar. I didn't think they made them anymore.

    Hugs from all of us!

  3. What loving memories you have, Donna, and such a terrific tribute to such a special person in your life. He was lucky to have you for a granddaughter, too!

  4. Tears fill ,y eyes as I share your beautiful memories of your beloved grandfather, Donna. How wonderful you have the crocks & his memory is kept alive daily ... such love is hard to part with.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful part of your life.

    Hope you had a lovely holiday celebration.
    Have a wonderful week ~
    TTFN ~

  5. Donna, what lovely memories you have! Love this post!

  6. What good memories. My grandfather used to say everything was copacetic, too! Must have been THE word for "okay" in that generation. ; ) Thanks for sharing. Have a great Monday.

  7. Everyday, Blessings come in small ways. Be sharp to never let one slip by. Thanks you for the small Blessing shared with me today.

  8. Donna, your sweet memories of your grandfather brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing him with us. Twyla

  9. What awesome memories Donna, he sounds like an amazing grandpa. Thank-you for sharing your beautiful tribute.

  10. Grandparents are the most wonderful thing a child can have. That was a lovely memory for you share and bought back memories of my own grandfathers.

  11. A beautiful tribute to your beloved grandfather. Thank you for sharing your reflection with us.
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  12. Happy Memory Monday Donna Sweetie...
    I love this memory share today. How beautiful it is. A memory and time in your life, so precious you were able to pull it from the shelf in your mind and share it so vividly. Thank you sweet friend.

    I too love O Henry candybars. Nuts were the favorite part and the chocolate of course.

    I am late getting mine posted, but I am up. Thank you for hosting such a wonderful blogger treat.

    Many hugs and much love, Sherry

  13. What a lovely memory to share. I love this idea and will try to join next week!


  14. i only saw my paternal grandfather 6 times in my life, but oh how we loved each other. we shared something special, our love for Jesus. we wrote each other often. it was always on grandpa's heart that my dad and brothers were not saved. growing up in the 50's and 60's we were a lot like most americans going to church because that's what you did. one of my brothers has died now and it hurts like anything to know i never could convince him that Jesus was waiting with open arms. he was a self-proclaimed atheist. when he died i felt such defeat. in one of the last letters i received from my grandpa before he died he begged me to do all i could to bring the men in my family to Christ. that was 20 years ago, and i'm still trying. even though i didn't see him in person but 6 times we had so many phone calls, and i have all of his letters. he is still very close to me. i so enjoyed reading of your memories of your grandfather. grandfather's are very special.


Thank you so much for leaving a comment today. I'm using new settings on my comments so that I'll be able to respond to your messages to me. Be sure to come back to see my replies!

Blessings, Donna