Tomorrow would have been my dad's 95th birthday. He's been gone for almost 15 years and I still think about him every day. I suppose most daughters think their dad was the best, but really, my dad WAS the best!! I remember when I was a little girl, I'd sit on the back of the couch behind him and pretend to dump ketchup, mustard, and anything else I could think of on his hair, and then rub it all in. His hair was a disaster when I was done, but he didn't mind. That tradition continued on with the grandkids - I even have a picture somewhere of Rosalie playing with his hair. Of course, she had much less to play with than I did!
My dad came from a family of 9 kids, and family was always very important to him. As a child, we visited my Grandma and Grandpa Granger in Strong City at least once a month, maybe more often. (kids don't keep great track of time you know) There was always lots of family there, and Grandma always fixed a big meal for everyone. I was close to all of my aunts and uncles, but not my cousins so much. Most of my cousins were considerably older than me. I was the youngest grandchild, and there were many great grandkids older than me. He inherited his love for flowers and gardening from his mother. Gardening was how my dad relaxed after a hard day of bricklaying. Can you imagine? He worked for hours in the garden and it showed. After Greg and I were married, he tried to help me with a garden, even helping me harvest and can green beans. He finally figured out it just wasn't my thing, but he never judged me for it. He also had a nice little orchard with fruit trees, grape vines, and black raspberries. Mom and Dad spent hours every summer canning green beans, tomatoes, raspberry, grape and rhubarb jelly, and freezing corn and fruit for pies. He always helped Mom out with that kind of stuff.
He taught me to drive, change a tire, check my oil, and pump gas. He always wanted me to be able to take care of myself. He reluctantly let me mow the yard. Now I'm not sure if it was because he was worried I'd get hurt or that I'd hurt the mower!
I think my dad was the most gentle man I've ever known. He had a soft spot for babies, both human and animal. He even loved the pet raccoon we had when Erin was little. Being around babies made his whole face light up. He couldn't keep his hands off of them.
showing new baby Erin to her cousin
November 1983 with 7 month old Erin
love that look of contentment on his face
sneakin' a smooch - Christmas 1983
(not sure what Miss Erin's problem was!)
After he retired, he and mom moved into Burlingame, and he missed the country so much. He'd get restless in town, and the next thing I knew, he'd be at my house. He didn't want anything special, and didn't expect me to entertain him. He just liked being on the farm. The last ten years of so of his life, he and mom came out every Sunday afternoon, like clockwork. We watched football or basketball, or whatever other sport was on together. Those Sundays are one of the things I miss the most.
One thing that did keep him busy in those later years was baking. He became famous for the cakes he shared with this Masonic brothers and at the Sr. Center Meal Site. He checked Greg's Grass and Grain every week for new recipes.
Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day. I'm taking Carter and Chloe with me to put flowers on his grave. I wish with all my heart that they could have known their Great Grandpa Granger. I'll share some stories with them, but of course it won't be the same. We'll just have to settle for a visit with Great Grandma Granger. She's pretty cool too.