Saturday, March 08, 2008

Grandpa Sam

Grandpa and Grandma Tenney

Well, obviously this has been a long time coming. I'm not really sure what to say. That's probably why I haven't posted since the last one. My grandpa Sam passed away this winter. My parents were here when we got the news, and we drove down to New Mexico with them for the funeral.

At the funeral, they had all the people who were named after him stand up. I felt really lucky to be one of them. There are a lot of things I could say about him that he would never say about himself, so I'll just say that he was a great man. If you'll humor me, I'd like to write a little about what I think of when he comes to mind, and what brings back memories of him:

When you are growing up, you watch your dad a lot, and try to see how he does everything. You see how he treats people and how he makes decisions. You see who he likes and respects, and sort of take mental notes of the things that make up a respectable person. When I was young, it was very clear that my dad was watching Grandpa Sam, and learning as much from him as from his own dad. The respect dad showed him made me pay attention too.

Grandpa was an interesting study. He had this sort of mean, grouchy exterior. As a kid, we knew that playing with grandpa meant two things. First, you were going to laugh. Second, you were going to get hurt. He was as likely to tell you he loved you as give you some sort of deep bone bruise, and after a while I realized that the two were interchangeable.

This is me getting hurt.

I have an insatiable appetite for reading. I will read anything. I will read children's books, super academic look-how-stupid-I-can-make-you-feel stuff, whatever. If it is in front of me I will read it. On night when I was about 18, I went to be and saw a book my Grandpa had left behind from thier last visit. It was "Comstock Load" by Loius L'amour. I finished it that night. I don't know why I got hooked. It likely has something to do with trying figure out grandpa, who almost always was reading a L'amour or Luke Short novel, and I know it has something to do with simple escapism from my daily life. As I write this, I am reading three westerns. Its still an escape (what could be further from the highly detailed, ultra critical world of architecture than the old west?), but I also feel like I catch a little bit of my grandpa when I'm reading.

For pretty much anyone who reads this it will be old news to hear about what a good husband he was. I like to think that grandpa and grandma were a good team. They were dedicated to each other. She did a lot for him, and he acted in a way that never gave her reason to question his appreciation. In my own marriage, I try (and repeatedly fail) to emulate that.

When Kristie and I were first married, we took a vacation to Napa and Gualala, where Grandpa and Grandpa live when I was a kid. I showed her around the places we used to go when we'd visit, and I went golfing at the course he was the superintendant for. It was kind of a stressful time for me. I had come to the realization that I hated doing HR. I was pretty miserable, actually. While we were on that vacation I had an epiphany of sorts. I looked at the years ahead, and decided that I needed to make a change. I remember telling Kristie about how much happier Grandpa told me he was when he started working at a job he loved. I started to ask myself what I could do for a living that would provide that type of satisfaction. Not long after, I had quit my job and after a few missteps, was in school on my way to becoming an Architect.

This is me playing Sea Ranch.

There is really one other thing I'd like to share, and its a small thing. When I was little, Grandma and Grandpa would come down to visit our family a lot. I remember being woken up by him quite a few times, and told to go get money from Grandma so we could take a ride. (That's how I learned that I'd could be a lot happier if I let my wife handle all the money.) This meant I was going on an important mission, and I remember being extremely excited about the prospect. I'd get the money, and we'd go out and get in his truck. I will never forget the smell of that truck. It was a mix of oil, grass and vinyl seats. I don't remember why that sticks out so much. Probably because I used to play in the back of it a lot, and being in the front was sort of a treat. Anyway, our mission was alway the same. We'd go to Winchell's, and he'd pick up a paper, chat with the other customers, and let me pick out donuts for everyone back home. There are two things that I look back on in life as my introduction a "man's" world. The first was visiting my dad at the fire station. The second was being one of the guys at the donut shop in the morning.

On the way home, he'd wait until I'd let my guard down, and then as he was shifting gears, he'd backhand me across the chest. It hurt. I miss him.


TheVasquez3 said...

THIS is beautiful. i miss him too.

Elena said...

Scott, I'm really sorry you're missing your Grandpa Sam so much. It sounds like he was a wonderful man. I love the memories you shared about him. You'll have those with you forever.

big hugs to you...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Just so you know, He loved you too!


Garlic Boy said...

That was touching. Thanks.

Garlic Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...

Do you ever wonder if Winchell's is some sort of cosmic hub in your life? I bet if we mapped it out, with pins and string, we could link every event in your life to it. It would look like a dream catcher, and when we were done you could play the dijeridoo while burning sage.
That was a nice post about your Grandpa. Speaking of grandpas, I saw Noal Grover friday. I know, that segway doesn't really work, but I wanted to say that I saw him. oh well.