I have never suffered for a male role model. My entire life, I lived in the shadow of a great man. He did not invent anything, or entertain thousands, or even make himself wealthy over the course of his life. However, he did what was right, and what was best for those he cared about.
We played cards, while hunting, while sitting around the house, any old time really. I always marveled at how the same person, who would tell me instantly if he had seen my hand so that he did not have an unfair advantage, would just as quickly steal my nobs if I missed them! But, Farfar was a man of principle, stealing points is part of the game, just like good sportsmanship is, and he did both. In the end, when you thought about it, Farfarâ€™s actions always made sense.
Farfar and I could not have been further apart politically. He furiously supported Bushâ€¦ â€˜nuff said. However, while I did question his political decisionâ€™s, and by question, what I really mean is debate vigorously for hours until he told me I was not allowed to talk politics with him any longer (a moratorium that usually lasted about 45-47 seconds, by the way), what I always respected were his convictions. Unlike many today, Farfar had a belief in a system , a system based on right, wrong, and opportunity. This system shaped his politics and his views on life and he never wavered upon it (even when it came to a certain someoneâ€™s strategery of misunderestimating). I am just as stubborn in defending and debating my own positions to this day.
Not all of his â€œlessons,â€ took, however. Take his eating habits, for example. Liver and onionsâ€¦ no; eating the turkey neck and other â€œtreasuresâ€ that come in the little bagâ€¦ please; that awful cheese you could smell in another countyâ€¦ goodness no! and donâ€™t even get me started on what he would do with lardâ€¦
We had a discussion some years ago, as I looked at the blueprints to an addition he was building for one of his children. I donâ€™t remember which child or which house, but I do remember the cool SBJ initials he had on each page. It was almost like a brand. When I asked him about it he told me about taking pride in my name (all of my name, my middle name was a critical a part as my first and last). He told me not to lend my name to anything I was not proud of, but to always leave my mark on my work. To this day I am far more likely to sign something sbj than anything else, I use my middle name on everything, and I swell with pride each and every time I do.
Together, we built a second floor on my childhood home in Reno. I remember one day he was doing some electrical work in the laundry room and accidentally cut a live wire. As far as I know, my father still has the wire cutters that he was using, and they still have the nearly perfect circle blown out of the steel from when he hit the current. I remember how terrified I was that day, when I thought he could have died. Ironically, in the weeks leading up to his passing, I did not have the same fear, rather, I had gratitude for having had the opportunity to witness such a full and meaningful life taking place before my eyes and for the effect experiencing it had upon me.
Through all the games of cards, all the construction projects and all the political battles; however, what I remember most about Farfar was the single sentence that punctuated almost every visit. I would ask him to stay longer he would invariable say â€œI have to get home to Farmorâ€ (based on his snoring habits, Iâ€™m not 100% certain she always shared his enthusiasmâ€¦ but to him it was always paramount).
Farfar began his final journey back home to Farmor shortly after 5:00pm on November 12th, 2008, and Iâ€™m fully confident that right now he is enjoying the trip, stealing someoneâ€™s nobs, and eating the stinkiest cheese ever createdâ€¦