I don’t remember when Grandpa actually had a job other than being a farmer. When I was little he had sheep and cows. Then eventually it was only sheep. His farm was a mile or so from his house, but we usually drove his rickety old pickup down to water the sheep. He carried about 9 ancient milk cans in the back of his truck. He would fill them each with the garden hose at his house. That task took about half an hour and it was a good chance to just sit.
|Grandma and Grandpa at our wedding.|
Grandpa never moved fast when I knew him. When the cans were finally full we would get a nice long drink for ourselves from that hose. It was always cold and clear and so tasty! Then we would climb in the 1949 truck that Grandpa bought new 25 years before. I’m pretty sure it was green once…He used that truck for everything. It was 1974 and gas was about 65 cents a gallon.
In the summer Grandpa moved the sheep up to the east fields to graze. These fields were a little further from town and the sheep were more accessible to rogue dogs and coyotes so Grandpa slept out in the summer to make sure the sheep were safe. My brothers and I alternated turns with who would get to spend the night. We climbed in Grandpa’s truck after supper and drove the few miles, arriving just before dusk. Grandpa checked all the sheep and then we set up camp. Our living quarters consisted of an old vehicle shell. Grandpa had thrown a makeshift mattress in there and a couple of sleeping bags. I don’t know what kind of vehicle it was, but it had a roof over our heads and two back doors that opened up like a van. When the doors were closed my head and Grandpa’s feet were right next to those two doors, and Grandpa’s head rested where the steering wheel should have been. I loved going up in the fields with Grandpa. Everything was slow and calm.
We had time to look at the stars and he pointed out the different constellations. Lots of times we just sat together. Grandpa did a lot of thinking. "Toots," he said, "See that star over there?" And he pointed his wrinkled finger. "Which one?" I was always eager to please Grandpa. "That one in the middle…the bright one," he replied. I squinted my eyes, trying hard to see, "Ok…" I said. "That’s the North Star. You can’t get lost if you can find the North Star," he drawled confidently. I nodded my head solemnly. I didn’t understand how knowing the stars would keep me from getting lost, but I believed everything Grandpa said. Then we would sit for the next 20 minutes staring at the stars. The most excited I believe I ever saw Grandpa was when he would see a falling star. "There it goes!" he’d exclaim, "Did you see that?"
|Image by NASA. Fun Facts here.|
Grandpa was a long-time inactive member of the LDS church. He’d had an argument with somebody years ago and decided that was a good enough reason to spend his Sundays at home. But he always appreciated the beauty in even the smallest of God’s creatures (except for flies…he paid me a penny apiece to kill them). We always slept well in the fields. I only remember Grandpa getting up once in all the nights we stayed there and then I was commanded to stay in bed while he checked things out. We’d get up with the sun, check the sheep one last time and head home. Back at the house we always ate breakfast together and always the same thing…two slices of white toast with jam and no butter and Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate with marshmallows. Sometimes I miss that simpler, slower time with Grandpa when the most important thing in the whole world was a falling star.