Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Banking Memories

Today was my grandpa's funeral, where we both celebrated his long and full life and mourned his physical absence in our lives from here forward. My dad invited me to prepare and say a few words, which I'd like to post here, in loving memory of Sture Johnson, 1909-2008.

When I was in fourth grade, Grandpa helped me build a wooden bank for a school project. Today, I don’t remember what the project was all about, but I do remember how special I felt working alongside my grandfather—measuring, cutting, sanding, nailing, and staining. It was a simple project for someone who was a carpenter by trade—who had built the very house he lived in—but to 9-year-old me, the process was complicated and involved, my grandpa was strong and able, and the finished project was marvelous (shown in photo...judge for yourself). :)

Today, my bank holds no coins. Instead, I’ve filled it with another kind of treasure—memories of my grandpa, things I appreciated about him and will remember always. I’d like to share a few of them with you:

I used to play checkers with my grandpa on the beautiful hardwood checkerboard he’d made. He beat me—every single time.

I remember tagging along with my dad and grandpa to attend my brother’s track meets. I went in large part because I knew there was a good chance we’d all go to McDonalds afterwards. Grandpa liked to give me a hard time about my excessive use of ketchup.

My grandpa appreciated a good buffet restaurant, and made friends at those he frequented. Through one of those friendships Grandpa even helped me get a college scholarship from a golf course…despite the fact I’ve never once golfed.

My grandpa loved hosting our family gathering on Christmas Eve. He would clean and cook and bake for days. My grandpa was an incredible baker, turning out perfectly browned loaves of limpa bread, impossibly thin pepparkakor cookies, and amazingly rich pound cakes. The secret ingredient in his pound cake is apricot brandy…but don’t tell anyone.

Finally, my grandpa believed in me. Whatever it was, he was sure I could succeed. If I were a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, he was confident I’d win big. If I would just practice enough, I too could be a great bowler in the Johnson family tradition. These days I do most of my bowling on a Nintendo Wii, but I can still hear Grandpa’s coaching, telling me, “It’s all about how you follow through.”

No comments: