Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo Appreciation Day

So I was informed that last some of my family got together to have an appreciation dinner for my Grandparents, and since I can not be there to join them, I thought I would post some of my thoughts and stories here on the blog for the world to see.

But where to begin? My life has been so enriched by their presence and generosity. From summers of taking us up to the cabin to catch tadpoles and try oh-so-patiently to convince me to water ski. Fueling us up each morning with Grandma Jo's special french toast (no one can beat it!), and keeping us in good spirits with her hilarious patented sense of humor. To being there to see us walk down the aisle and dance at our reception (they have always been better dancers than I'll ever be).

They gave me the most amazing opportunity a girl could ever receive when I was only 11 years old. Growing up, I could only be described as horse crazy. Putting every cent of birthday and paper route money into my "horse account," and experiencing that secret disappointment every Christmas when even though I got a lot of wonderful gifts, Santa didn't leave a real horse in the back yard. Eventually I was given riding lessons for every gift giving occasion, and what a thrill! I couldn't have been happier, that is, until one day Grandpa and Grandma announced that I had worked so hard to save, that they would contribute half the cost of a horse, and, more importantly, the monthly board required to keep it. The search was on and my mom and I spent our Saturdays combing the classifieds and driving out to test ride quite a few horses in the area. But none of them were quite right. Until one day we met Cee-Jay, a little morgan horse who was so full of spunk and pep when riding, but so sweet and patient on the ground. After a cool down ride on my own with him I returned with a huge grin and we knew we would be perfect partners. I imagine that mucking out stalls in the cold January Oregon rain might not qualify as Shangri-la for many, but it was truly paradise for me and I spent every possible moment I could at that barn for the next several years. It is not many 11 year olds that can honestly say their dreams have come true, but I was one of the lucky ones.

And while sometimes they do make dreams come true, or give us the chance to attend colleges across the country, other times they may disappoint us, but they always have our best interests at heart (even if we don't think so at the time). Like when I was 17 and Grandpa went to the police station in Bath, England to ask if he should let me go out to the club I wanted to go out to that night (they said no, and I was furious at the time, but now, 17 years later, I guess I can see his point!)

And when our fury gets the best of us, there is no one like Grandma to put a smile on our face and pick up the pieces. Quite literally if necessary, like once when we were at their house in Neskowin. I must have been about 7 or 8 at the time and got so riled up by something Devin did or said (just what it was I have no idea now) that I threw my hair brush at him. He ducked. The window cracked, I cried and felt horrible and was so nervous about getting in trouble. All I remember happening next was Grandma coming into the room, hearing our story and looking at the window. She then walked over, pulled the shade down, and said "There, now Grandpa will never notice." And I never did hear another word of repercussion from it. Everyone needs a Grandma Jo, because with her on your side the world can never really come crashing down around you.

So, for all you have done and all that you do, Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo, I love you with all of my heart.

Skiing with Grandpa

I actually wrote part of this story out several years ago. It was one of my favorite childhood memories. I thought I would share it today as part of Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jo Appreciation Day. The memories below more than make up for the memories of Grandpa opening our bedroom door at 5am to say "Everybody up, we gotta get to the mountain!"

I remember the fist time I went to the mountain with my family. Everybody said I was too little to ski, so Grandma stayed with me at the ski lodge all day. I slid around on my little cross country skis at the base of the mountain, and pouted and sulked and watched everybody else joyously riding up the lift and swooshing back down the mountain. It was a beautiful sunny day and the snow sparkled, and at the end of the day all of the tired skiers came in beaming with huge smiles and talking about what a perfect day it was. When Grandpa came down he said it was such a great day that he thought he would take one more run. I glowered knowing I would have to wait still longer, but then he surprised me and scooped me up in his arms and skied over to the lift, and sat me down as we rode it up together. Higher and higher we went, and when we got off the lift Grandpa swooshed down the mountain holding me between his legs on my little cross country skis. I could feel the wind blowing through my hair and the snow sliding smoothly beneath me, we were going so fast and it felt amazing. Sure it was really only the little baby lift, but it still lasts in my memory as one of the best runs down the mountain I have ever taken.

In the following years I was old enough to join everyone on the mountain, but I still got left behind when I tried to keep up with my brother Devin and cousin Justin. I got tired and frustrated being the littlest one, and my toes got cold, and I knew they really didn’t want me around. Then I realized, if I skied with Grandpa, when I got tired and my toes got cold he would take me into the lodge and sit with me and let me have a hot chocolate and a donut. And at the end of the brilliant sunny days if I asked “How about we do one more run?” Grandpa would smile and off we would go. 

P.S. Hi, this is Dan here. Katrin mentioned this family event and I wanted to get in on the action. Katrin and I have been together for going on 13 years now and in that time I've had a lot of opportunities to spend time with Bill and Jo, not only in Oregon but also even in Vermont and Hawaii. What strikes me more than anything is their generosity. They have always made me feel so welcome as a part of the family, showered me with smiles and kindness every time, and it's made me feel comfortably at home in their presence. I've heard it's not always easy marrying into a new family, but they sure have tried to make it easy for me. Please pass much love on from me to them.