Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Larry E. Sherwood....my grandpa

It's sort of mind-blowing that just a little over a month ago I posted this about our grandpas and less than two weeks later one of those good men was gone from this earth. My Grandpa, Larry Elton Sherwood, passed away March 22, 2014. (You can read his obituary here). Grandpa Sherwood was something different to everyone, but he was something to everyone. I've loved, so much, hearing all of the things that he was to so many people; patriarch, cow-hand, bishop, boss, employee, friend, etc. and I am so grateful for what he was and is to me. 

Grandpa is a flood of memories for me, starting from a very young age, all the way until 2 weeks before he passed when I got to hang out with him for a couple weeks. That's 26 years of inspiration, motivation, example, and love I got to have from that man. What a blessing. I've learned from the passing of my dad that writing down memories and referring back to them often is a crucial part of healing and moving forward, so that's what I'm going to do now, share some of my sweetest memories of my grandpa. 
I don't ever want to forget:
Lying in bed on a Saturday morning and hearing the doorbell ring followed by a loud "Are you gonna sleep all day?" which was generally preceded by some form of cuss word, most often the "h" word. :)

Sitting between gramps and Uncle Rolf on our way to who knows where, stealing a sip of Diet Coke from Uncle Rolf's giant Maverick mug and then a sip of Grandpa's DP from his giant Maverick mug. 

Running out to open the big white gate at the farm and it being too heavy, so I'd wait on the bottom pipe of the gate until Gramps would lift it open and then push that gate out nice and hard so I could get a good swinging ride on it before I had to jump off and get back in the pick up. 
My first time butchering with Grandpa. I can still remember being absolutely blown away by the whole thing, from realizing what a chore this really was, to recognizing that this was a labor of love that was going to feed an entire family for a long time. 
Watching Gramps shoot a hog not long before he "retired" from butchering and being so incredibly impressed and proud to call the man that just nailed a hog dancing around in the back of a horse trailer directly between the eyes from what had to be 50 yards away, my grandpa...and my 85 year old grandpa, at that. (I think it was about 8 years ago)
Trying on a dress that only had one sleeve and while Mom was pinning and tucking, Grandpa walked in, with blood all over his hands (from butchering) and asked for a plastic bag, which I thought was going to be for some butchering purpose, he then proceeded to wrap the bag around the arm without a sleeve and said, "that's better". Needless to say I did not ever wear that dress, nor did I ever wear anything sleeveless ever again. 

Watching Grandpa hurt and cry for us when my dad passed away. He would have traded places with my dad in a second but that wasn't the plan and he picked himself and us up by the bootstraps and kept on keeping on. 

Sitting on top of the chute looking over with over-sized anticipation, waiting for that dead silent, yet deafening head nod which meant "pull", and then watching him rope a steer in nothing flat! Pulling chutes for Grandpa and Uncle Floyd at The Martin Place made me feel like a queen, I seriously felt so honored!
And speaking of an honor, I remember the first time I was handed a hot shot and asked to go move some cows. I felt like I had finally made it in life! (I was probably 8)

Sitting 3 or 4 cousins high on that old pink and tan flowery couch in the living room waiting for our Fast Sunday FHE to start and trying to look away pretending that I wasn't completely thrilled at the prospect of being asked to play the piano for our opening song while Markee led, but I was completely thrilled, and he asked every time and it made my day every time. 

Grandpa asking Markee and me to play and lead at our private family viewing for Grandma, I felt so grateful for the opportunity. Grandpa was ALWAYS giving me opportunities to shine and experience honor and responsibility. 

The advice he gave Collin when he was trying to decided which job to take a few months back. He said, "if getting up to go to work is a chore, you'll get stuck, but if you like getting up and going to a job you enjoy, you'll do better at it, you'll be better at it, and you'll be able to move ahead." Grandpa always worked, and he always enjoyed it, even the less-enjoyable stuff. 
When I wrote a song for Grandma after she died, Grandpa came in and said, "well where's mine?" I spent about a month writing a song for him that was in the same key as Grandma's and then I spent about another month joining the two songs together into one piece that I thought musically represented the love my grandparents' shared and the way they complemented and completed each other. I played it for Grandpa a few months later and he said, "you'll play that at my funeral". (Thank the HEAVENS I didn't have to, and thank the HEAVENS he was kidding. Also, thank the heavens my sweet Aunt Tina played at his funeral because it was truthfully the most beautiful piano solo I've ever heard. In fact, I hadn't shed a tear until her solo).  He didn't die for over 10 more years! I play it often when I miss my grandma and now my grandpa. 

Grandpa coming to my mom's house declaring that he'd left his glasses somewhere and we needed to go find them, so naturally I headed toward the driver's seat, given that the 92 year old didn't have his glasses, but he insisted on driving and I don't remember ever having more fun! 

Watching him handle a dutch-oven like it was his baby, and coming out with perfect biscuits every single time, because even if they were a little burnt, since Grandpa made them, they were perfect. 

Seeing him manage and maintain the reunion place to make sure it was always ready for the family.
When he took me on a DQ date once while Mom was doing paperwork and Nolan was sleeping. It was just Grandpa and me. I tried to pay, and he nipped that in the bud right away. He bought us lunch and a treat and we just sat in DQ visiting. To be honest, we didn't talk much, Grandpa didn't talk just to talk, I remember him keeping quiet until something profound needed to be said, but that lunch is one of my sweetest memories. 
The summer my dad was sick, and the summer after, and for several weeks this year, I got to spend uninterrupted time in Eagar, as an adult with a different perspective on life, and I got to be around grandpa for months at a time knowing that he wouldn't be around forever and wanting to learn every possible thing I could from him. I kept a notebook all summer long of the things he taught me. Everything from how old his oldest cow was to where he bought his bull. He knew how many cows and calves he had and he taught me when to sell them and what is a good price. I look at the notebook and remember riding in the Kubota with Nolan between us, and Nolan doing the cattle call and Grandpa cracking up. I remember Grandpa not even being able to step out of the truck because his cows were so close he couldn't move. They'd reach right up and lick him and eat out of his hands. They loved him just as much as he loved them. 
I want to remember the way Grandpa knew everybody and something about them. I want to remember the way he treated my mom and his kids. I want to remember Christmas shopping with Grandpa around town. I want to remember doing corn, and shelling peas, and fishing in the pond, the smell of branding, his determined and pointed walk that got slower overtime but NEVER lost purpose. I want to remember the way he looked after a fresh hair cut. I want to remember sitting next to him during church and him letting me play with his watch. I want to remember his hands, his worn, strong, hard-working, never-idle, sun-spotted, wrinkled, serving hands. I want to remember that he called me Matilda and sis and Ash, and I want to remember that he called Collin 'Collins'. I want to remember that he never called Nolan by his name but always by some other heart-felt yet slightly spicey (and always situationally appropriate) name. I want to remember how tightly he hugged my mom when she brought my dad home from the hospital, they hadn't seen each other in about a month and I think that might have been the longest in their whole lives. I want to remember his funeral and the horse-drawn wagon lead by 3 of his best cowboy friends. I want to remember the wonderful people who showed up to support and show love. I want to remember the honor it was to carry Grandpa's casket and the tribute it was to watch my cousins lower his casket into the ground with roping ropes. I want to remember his hat and his spurs, his horse Annie, and all the horses that came before her. 
I want to remember so many things about my grandpa but if I only get to remember one thing, I hope it's this:

My Grandpa was all of the things I talked about above, a dad, a brother, a son, an uncle, and grandpa, a friend, a bishop, a patriarch, a cowboy, a team roper, a butcher, a teacher, a peace-maker and a leader, but FIRST AND FOREMOST my grandpa was follower of Christ and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That always came first. ALWAYS. And if I never get to live on a ranch and use the notebook full of cattle-herding knowledge he gave me, and if I never get to grow a garden or sip water from a rusty old ladle again, and if I never get to do one other thing that my grandpa taught me to do, that will be okay with me, as long as I follow his example and never let my faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ waver. He was perfect in his testimony and I want that to be what I carry with me in this life.

I will forever be grateful to have had Larry Sherwood as my grandpa.