My Grandfather

When I was a child I spent a ton of time at my grandparents house; waking up in the morning I would hear the adults sitting around the table talking and drinking coffee, their muffled voices sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I would get out of bed, walk to the kitchen, and sit in my Grandfather’s lap; then I would ask for coffee which he would usually oblige.
My Grandfather was the single most influential man in my life. As a child there were only three professions worth having: a soldier because to a little boy war is the raddest thing, a cowboy because John Wayne is the man, and a fireman because that truck is so sick. My grandfather had been all three. Growing up I had the great fortune of spending lots of time with Papa; he would tell me stories of growing up poor during the depression, Nazi-hunting in Germany, and ranching in Nevada (pronounced Nev-AH-da). My favorite was when he was living on the beach in California he got a job at a movie theater so he got food for free, truly I’m Papa’s grandson. His stories would arouse images of staring off into sunsets and pulling people out of burning buildings. It wasn’t just his stories that inspired me things that he would do, habits he had that I’ve picked up. Like never having a shirt on during the summer and getting that smell of being outside a lot but you haven’t taken a shower in a while. To this day I still pick all the blackberries and raspberries even the small ones because he told me that you have to pick them all so the next year they’ll grow back larger. To love my family and always do my best. Every time I watch House of Cards I want to be a congressman, not because Frank Underwood is the man but because my Grandfather always told me I should.
My Grandfather supported and loved me unconditionally no matter what I did. He was so proud of me and my lifestyle; he was always so excited to hear of all my adventures, it always seemed that he had a story from the place that I had just been or the place that I was going. Most recently Bishop California, when I saw him at Christmas he told me stories of mining for gold in the Eastern Sierra. He loved the west as I do.
I was sitting in the buttermilks when I received a text message from my mom saying CALL ME! When I got on the phone with her she told me that my grandfather only had a couple of more days to live. I asked her if I could speak to him; we said our goodbyes we said that we would miss one another. The last thing he said to me was “don’t be sad, I wish I could stay with you but I gotta go”. I wept.
I believe that we are the sum of our experiences; we’re not just set out on a trajectory predestined to be what we become. We’re shaped the the people, places, and things that we come in contact with. Papa was the first person who I saw Rocky Mountain National Park with, he was the person who taught me to tie my shoes, and he was the first person who inspired me to go adventure. I’m truly James Edward Smith’s grandson and I’m forever grateful.

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