Summer Vacations with Pop
even the stars
are whispering to each other.”
― Kobayashi Issa
Summer nights, summer days. When I was a child I thought summers in Minnesota were just as long as the winters. They were packed with so much fun. My grandpa Pop, my dad’s dad took the four of us to Willmar, Minnesota where he lived to a beautiful lake with an inauspicious name: George for a long week every summer. He rented out a wonderful lake home and spoiled us rotten the week long. Here are my brothers on the deck. More often they would be found down on the dock fishing and I would be keeping an eye on them, or Pop would be fishing with them.
I polled my brother Scott and we cannot remember much adult supervision on these trips. My guess is that meant a grandparent was delightfully in charge. Pop was a wonderful man. He was tall and gentlemanly. He talked a lot and told great stories. He loved to take us for drives and when he came back from the grocery store, he always had with him GALLON containers of ice cream. This is how little my brothers were when they started eating their ice cream out of cereal bowls, not ice cream bowls…a tradition which is carried on in our family to this day.
I’m quite certain these wonderful vacations involved shared visitation by both of our parents, courtesy and all expenses paid for by Pop. Pop was not a rich man. He sold insurance for Waseca Mutual Insurance Company and lived in Willmar, MN. Willmar is a nice town, where Pop was well respected and had lots of friends.
Willmar also is host of a Presbyterian Church were my ex-husband did his internship for a year to graduate from seminary. I lived there when I was pregnant with my 1st. And it is there that little Shirley Deborah is buried. I made many terrific friends for the 13+ months we lived in Willmar and I can see their faces now. It was my only taste of small town life and I was lucky to live in that gracious, friendly place.
But, back to Pop. He was a fun, generous and nice grandpa. We enjoyed the vacations on the lake he gave to us and the added time spent with him and dad on the weekends. We loved fishing for the sunnies. Tanning on the diving deck. Puttering around in the fishing boat. And we really liked the cereal bowls full of ice cream!
I miss Pop. He was fun to talk to. Easy going and kind. He was a mellower version of my dad. He told longer stories. He reminds me a bit of my husband. People tease my husband Mike to speed up his stories and get to the point. But most days, I love the relaxing, not a care about time in the world-way he tells his tales. Just like Pop.
Pop finished out his days in Rio Verde, Arizona in the resort home my dad bought with the intention of someday retiring there. Pop was the caretaker and main host of this home, at some point seeming to forget it was dad’s. Dad didn’t make a fuss. He let his dad keep his dignity and we all acted when visiting as if good old Pop were picking up the whole tab again!