JMJ *To support himself and his family during the Great Depression, he did all kinds of odd jobs. On-the-job training was the norm, as he would often tell prospective employers that he had skills which he did not in truth possess!
Ring the School Bell 141/180 Days
Grandpa Mike, my husband’s father, began his life’s journey on July 15, 1918, almost 100 years ago. He passed away on March 30, 2014 at the age of 95 years old. Although the last few years he was mostly silent due to dementia, the decades I knew him, he was an awesome father-in-law.
To support himself and his family during the Great Depression, he did all kinds of odd jobs. On-the-job training was the norm, as he would often tell prospective employers that he had skills which he did not in truth possess! He was a boxer for a time, earning $5 a fight, back when $5 was about two weeks worth of wages. He also joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to put out forest fires in Oregon, built new trails in the wilderness, was a dancer in the old movie classics, all before settling in as a costumer for the movie studios, mostly working for Michael Landon’s Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. With a twinkle in his eye, he loved recounting adventures he had had, and we loved listening to him.
Mike’s mind left a long time before his body did, but through it all, he still had an amazing joy of living. At first, he was very aware that he was losing his mind, and was perplexed as to why he would forget things. My wonderful brother-in-law, Paul, took such good care of him until the end, and would bring him by the house for special occasions. Mike could not remember our names after a while, but would refer to me as “that lady who packs up food for Robert”, who would usually be waiting for a care package back at his house. It amazed me that although he could not fully participate in the conversation any longer, he still remembered that Robert would appreciate some food.
Until the very end, he still loved a good meal and would be gracious as a guest. He answered simple questions with a smile.
I will miss Grandpa Mike, although I know he must be in a better place.
What wisdom can I glean from Grandpa Mike’s 95 years?
- Laugh heartily. Whenever I hear my husband do so, I am reminded of Grandpa Mike. They laugh in the same manner. I am convinced that laughter heals the mind, body and soul.
- Share your story. My father-in-law loved to sit around the dining room table and regale us with adventures he had experienced, such as the time his car had almost careened down a cliff. He had fallen asleep at the side of the road, when a police officer knocked on his window to let him know to get out of the car very slowly. Apparently, the front passenger wheel was dangling over the cliff. Once misstep and it could have unbalanced the car with probable fatal consequences. No matter that we had heard this story on numerous occasions, it was always entertaining to hear. Take the time and share “your” story with others.
- Listen to the advice of your elders. After all, they have been on this planet longer than you, and may have some very sound advice to share. Ponder what they say. Tap into their experience. Don’t just blow it off.
- Stay physically active. Grandpa Mike diligently swam at the YMCA, with his wife Virginia, well into his eighties. Somehow, I think this may be related to living well and living long!
- Have a purpose. Grandpa Mike lived for his family. He lived a full life with his wife and two of his sons, one with mental difficulties, until the very end.
Thank you for your wisdom, love and laughter Grandpa Mike. You will live on in our hearts forever.
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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.
May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine. Annette