Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She would have been ninety-one. She was my mom’s mom. I’ve been thinking about her a lot this week, more than any other year since her death. This month is also the birth month of my grandfather, my dad’s dad. He would have been 107 on November 10th. I remember both of them fondly and think of them often. Although they were very different, I have them to thank for my love of the outdoors.
My grandma lived with us when I was young and she loved to camp. I think she camped with us well into her sixties. And, when I tell you we camped, we camped in tents on the ground. There were no beds or cots and she never complained. She loved it. She taught my sisters and I how to pee in the woods. We called it shake, rattle and roll. She was full of life. She used to ride with all the grandkids in the back of my uncle’s pickup and sing, “Home on the Range”. She wasn’t the classic grandma you read about in books, but she taught us to love the outdoors and all that God created. Every time I smell campfire I think of her. It was her most favorite thing about camping.
My grandpa worked for the U.S. Forest Service and the Montana Forestry Department. He knew more about trees and plants than I’d ever want to know. Sometimes he would tell me about the plants he most loved. I remember one time when we were visiting him in California he took me through his rose garden. He had planted so many varieties and he knew everything about them. I like to think that my love of roses and tinkering in my garden came from him. He loved trees too and must have planted hundreds, if not thousands in his time. I loved to hear his stories about spotting fires from the lookouts and fixing the trails so hikers could enjoy them. My most favorite story was about the time he met a grizzly on the trail and lived to tell about it. His face would light up at the memory. I thought he was pretty cool. My son reminds me of him sometimes. He loves the outdoors too and has a quiet, thoughtful way about him. When he was a little boy he was my grandpa’s spitting image too.
As we enter this month of thanksgiving, I am thankful for family and all they pass on to us through their own loves and passions.