My Grandpa Frank passed away last week. We rushed up to Topeka after hearing he was going into emergency heart surgery. Unfortunately we got the call about 30 minutes away that he didn’t make it.
I spent a good amount of time between then and now thinking about the time I got to spend with him. I’m blessed to have so many great memories with him from when I was just a little kid, all the way to seeing him be GREAT Grandpa for my son.
Walking around his farm this past week was so eerie. Do you have any place in the world where you go and feel completely safe and comfortable? That has always been the farm for me. For me it’s always been a place where nothing bad happens. But now you look around at so many things Grandpa touched or built and it was difficult to imagine that he wasn’t coming back. There was a wrench laying next to his generator that he used to take the battery off and put it on the charger just days earlier. He didn’t even put the wrench away, because I’m sure he thought he would just be back to put it back on anyway. We placed it back on the wall where it hung with the rest of the set… just little things like that got me all week long. So many signs that made it look like he’d be right back.
As a kid we would visit the farm all the time. We would come back every summer for sure for Vacation Bible School. Grandpa would take me over to Seneca sometimes for coffee with the guys, and that really made me feel like a grown up, even if I was only six or seven years old.
When birthdays would roll around, it was Grandpa Frank’s duty to give out the spankin’s. One for each year and of course… one to grow on. It was an event filled with laughter, but grandpa’s spankin’s weren’t exactly pain free either!
He would always be out doing chores while I played outside with some of Dad’s old toys or swung on the swing. He would putt by on one of his tractors and I never really gave much thought to what he was actually doing, other than “his chores”. I rode with him one day to go check on some cattle and we stopped by a bush on the pasture and picked berries and ate them right off the bush.
Grandpa Frank always enjoyed playing games with my sister and me. Though he was ruthless. One of our favorites was croquet. We’d set all the wickets up next to the house and if Grandpa got the chance, he’d knock your ball clean out of the yard. Then he would laugh heartily. If you tried to do the same to him he would declare, “Hey! That’s dirty croquet!” At the time I thought he was just provoking me, and don’t get me wrong, Grandpa always enjoyed beating you. But the thing was, if you gave Grandpa the opportunity to beat you, he would take it every time. So eventually you learn to play whatever game you happen to be playing with him in a way, that you didn’t give him a chance to win. And he made you better.
I can think of endless other stories as I write this. The part that makes me proud though, is that to me: he was Grandpa. But Frank Althouse was so much more than a grandpa. He made an impact on so many people besides myself. Whether as a husband, a father, or a friend. He was more than even I got to know. And I think that’s pretty special to think that that great man was my Grandpa.