In Memoriam

Memorial day has come and gone. To some of you it may seem like ancient history. For me, Memorial day weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year, and the older I get the more 
I appreciate what it stands for. I am so grateful our nation has set aside one day each year to encourage everyone to remember those who have gone before us, especially those who gave their lives for our freedom. This kind of remembering really is good for us to do. Just think of how often we are encouraged in the Scriptures to "remember." Our lives being the way they are, we rarely take the time to remember. I understand remembering can be painful, but it can also bring joy to our hearts, and can really be a healthy way to grieve. All four of my grandparents have died. The last being my grandma Anderson just two years ago. They were the primary loved ones that I was remembering on Memorial day. Therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to remember, I hope you will bear with me. 

In my memory, my grandma Annette Anderson always had white hair. Her hair wasn't always white of course, but in all my memories of her it was. I was actually thankful that it was. It made her stand out in a crowd so I could find her whenever I was playing a game and I took a peak into the crowd to see if she and my grandpa were there watching me. They usually were. Her white hair made her look so elegant and sophisticated. She epitomized to me what a grandma was supposed to look like. 

One of the things that I remember most of all about Grandma Annette was her laugh. I heard her laugh a lot growing up. She was a joyous woman, especially around her grand-kids. She loved to laugh. She was the youngest of eight children. Even in their adult years, her siblings all lived in the same community of Albert City, Iowa and were a part of the same church, which of course, was the same church that I was raised in. What a blessing it was for me to have my grandparents and my grandma's family all together each Lord's day. 

My grandma lived to see the deaths of all of her brothers and sisters, as well as all of their spouses except one. Thinking about that reality for her makes me wonder how experiencing that affected her. I wonder what thoughts and questions went through her mind and heart. She lived almost 9 years after my grandpa died. Although her latter years were very difficult for her physically, yet she didn't miss out on much. She loved to gather with her family and we were always grateful to God for allowing us to spend as much time with her as He allowed us to spend.

My grandpa Virgil Anderson was a quiet, yet strong leader. For the majority of my life, Grandpa Virgil owned and operated his own auto mechanic shop on main street in Albert City, working alongside his son, my uncle, Doug. When I stopped by to see him there, or spent a little time with him there he would usually be working on a vehicle and then someone would interrupt his work by bringing him a tire to patch. I never saw my grandpa refuse service or tell the person he'd get to it later. He'd always pause what he was doing, and get to work patching the tire. When he died, his personal tool box with the same tire patching tools he used was passed on to me. I am no mechanic, but I do use his tools quite often fixing my children's bikes and bike tires. I'm so thankful I have them for it has provided me with a connection to my grandfather that I wouldn't have otherwise. It also almost always leads me to think of him and to give thanks for him whenever I open up his old tool box and grab one of his wrenches. 

I'm still impressed with a sacrifice my grandpa made early in his marriage. When he married my grandma, he took her away from her whole family. All of her siblings, except one, were living in and around Albert City at the time and they settled near his home in Laurel, Nebraska. Although one of her sisters was also close by, married to another Laurel man, she got homesick, as did her sister. When her sister and her husband moved back to Albert City, my grandpa decided that would probably be best for his wife as well. So they settled then near my grandmother's family back in Albert City, Iowa. If this move had never been made, my parents would have never met each other in Albert City-Truesdale High School. 

There is one thing I remember about my Grandma Alma Hogrefe and that is she was a worrier. I can see her now, sitting across from me at her kitchen table, I am drinking a can of pop and eating her chocolate chip cookies, and she is rocking back and forth and twiddling her thumbs, worrying about something. This endeared her to me for she was always thinking about those she loved in her family. I think if cell phones would have been around while my dad and then while I was growing up, my grandma would have not have had to worry so much. She was always wondering if we had made it to wherever we were going okay. Or she would wonder where exactly we were. The Life 360 App would have been a wonderful blessing for my grandma Hogrefe as I'm sure it is for many other grandma's today. 

Whenever I was with my grandma Hogrefe I knew I was loved, and I knew she enjoyed being with me and her family. One of my favorite memories would be when I was with my dad, and he would tease her or pretend he wasn't aware of something that she was concerned about. I loved seeing her grow frustrated with my dad and start chewing him out in German and then eventually realizing my dad was just having fun with her. O, how I wish I could go back and sit at my grandma's kitchen table just once and enjoy a bit of all of the fun I would have silently witnessing the interactions my grandma had with my dad and my grandpa Hogrefe. 

I spent a lot of time growing up with my grandpa Emil Hogrefe. They lived just one mile south of us. My dad farmed with his dad and so whenever I got to go along with dad, it always involved being with Grandpa and Grandma as well. In those days, Grandpa still worked full time on the farm, but he wouldn't be doing all the hard work that my father was, especially in taking care of the hogs my dad raised. Therefore, when my dad had some hard work to do he would have me help grandpa out with whatever he was doing. We took care of his Belgian Draft horses. We seeded oats. We fixed fences. We worked on different things around the farm place. One of my favorite things I got to do with Grandpa was of course, go to town to pick up some parts or supplies. I'd hop in his pick-up along with his rat terrier Penny and off we'd go, listening to him tell stories or sing his old time country songs. My grandpa smoked cigarettes and I think that had an effect on his voice, for he had this deep, somewhat scratchy voice. Now when I sing, especially when I am alone, I try to get real low and sound like him. 

Sometimes I hear him speak, giving me instructions on how to care for his horses, or patiently explaining to me why we were doing a certain project in a certain way. Most of all though I just miss being with him. My other grandparents grew old and got sick and prepared us for their passing. Not my grandpa Emil. He came home one evening in the early spring from hauling corn for my dad, fed his horses, and then came in the house and before he could get his boots off he collapsed of  a heart attack. He hung on late into the night until my aunt Carol, his oldest child was able to arrive to see him and then he went. I never got a chance to say goodbye. The last time I saw him was in the stands at one of my basketball games. I wish I had been given another chance to ride with him in his pick-up again with his dog and just listen to him talk. 

When you don't think about those who are now gone, you tend to forget how great of an impact they really had on your life. Our lives are busy, it takes time, but how good it is to remember. To go back and realize what your life was like with them, and how different your life is now without them. Let it provide you with an opportunity to give thanks to God for them and for the times you were able to spend with them. May it also lead you to love those you still have with you with a bit more perspective.