It was just last year when I wrote about my Grandma Fees, today I write about her husband Gordon Chester Fees my grandpa. A man of not only great faith, but wonderful if sometimes taxing humor.
Since my children had been blessed with both having a Grandpa Fees and a Great Grandpa Fees there needed to be a way to tell the difference in conversations with them. Otherwise they never knew for sure if we were going my dad’s or my Grandpa’s. So my grandpa became know as the fix it grandpa, if my older children broke their toys, bikes, or needed to build something it wasn’t to my dad they went but to Grandpa. He took up wood working after he retired, since he needed to keep busy and out of Grandma’s way. First he was set up in the garage, and then he was somehow able to get grandma to let him move his stuff into the basement. But only if he stayed in the one part and kept that sawdust out of her house.
Grandpa was never one to stay still, he always was puttering, even when he got to the point that he had to have someone else mow the lawn or shovel he was always right there to tell you how it should be done, and if you didn’t show up to do it he would threaten to do it himself. I remember that one day he came home with a new saw and that didn’t make grandma very happy, so she looked over at my dad said look at what your dad got you. Or the ladders how many times did we take a ladder to keep him off the roof and he would just head to Sears to buy another one.
Grandma might have broken her ribs by coughing, but grandpa did his falling of the roof of the trailer.
Grandpa was a favorite of us kids and then our children as who else is going to let you climb up on the garage roof, or use the power saw, who always had time to get the bikes out of the garage. I think he loved to shop at garage sales just to make sure he had a supply of toys on hand to send home with the kids when they came over to play.
When a lot of adults might not have had time for us kids’ grandpa always did, but even then there were some toys that were his and not for sharing. Even when grandpa was sitting he was busy painting, coming up with new jokes, and in his later years baking. Who here has enjoyed banana bread, fruit cake, or even cucumber bread baked by Grandpa?
There were many nights of sleepovers, with grandpa peeling apples and cutting them up and passing them out to eat, and candy’s passed to you out of his pockets while in church.
Grandpa was rarely serious, you never knew what he was going to say when you called the house sometimes it went like this “Hello is Grandma there, Well of course she is, Grandpa can I please speak to her, well of course you can, Grandpa please give the phone to Grandma, Well ok why didn't you say that in the beginning.”
The movies he made of all of us, and how we had to learn to talk in them once there was sound recording video. Him renting Dumbo on film from the library to play for my birthday. There is so much to remember.
I remember this summer going to visit and we headed out to check out the garden, I also like to garden and enjoy weeding somewhat. So I started to weed, a little to fast for Grandpa as he told me I had better leave him some of those weeds or he wouldn't have anything to do. He was always planning what his next project was going to be, and you better not tell him he was too old to do it.
He loved to sing and to square dance, he loved to be around people, he loved to tell stories to us about growing up, all the chicken they used to eat, the orphanage, the CCC, World War II, years spent working. And he did a wonderful thing he wrote down those stories so that even those great- grandchildren to young to remember him in person will read about him and know him.
He showed in his life what it was to be faithful; he cared for grandma and still loved her even when things were rough. He knew that the women he married was still in there somewhere and she would come out every once in a while. I look at how grandpa cared for her so tenderly and I tell my husband that there is nothing more in life I want then for you to care for me like that when we are old and I goof up more than people’s names.
Last year around this time he was worried that people would think it was wrong if he went to the Valentine lunch at the Senior Center with a woman. He asked me what did I think, I reassured him that no one would look down at him and that he should go and have fun. From what I heard from later he did.
He used to tell me in that non serious way of his that my dad was no fun, and each year he couldn’t wait until my dad went on a trip and then he could do whatever he wanted and my dad wouldn't know. A lot of those plans involved him getting a flight to my house to come for a visit; he just couldn't find a pilot. He looked forward to lunch out on Tuesday’s, and the senior center in the Falls was never as good as the one on Grand Island.
Two things that I have that my grandpa made for me way back in 1983 when he first retired are my cradle and chair, things that he made for each of his granddaughters. I enjoyed playing with them, and then my daughters and I look forward to the day my grandkids get to play with them. And of course they went back to grandpa for repairs over time.
This year as I plant my garden I will think of grandpa in his, when the dandelions bloom I will think of his recipe for cough syrup, when I see square dancing I will think of all those nights spent dancing with him, when grandma couldn’t. I will never look at a napkin without picturing grandpa.
I will always remember my last conversation with my Grandpa; he wanted me to mail him a glass of water since the nurses were only letting him have ice chips.
Tonight I go to sleep knowing that he is home, and that grandma and he are talking about all the wonderful things that did together.
And I ask that we all do something that Grandpa worked hard to do write down, record, remember your stories that others will remember and learn from them. Grandma left behind many homemade items, Grandpa has left behind the stories.
*Pictures to be added later, on a different computer*