Grandpa’s quiet spoke volumes

Grandpa had a quiet devotion to the important things in life.



June 12, 2023 - 3:47 PM

Dads, grandfathers, and even big brothers, play an important role in children’s lives. Photo by (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

As Father’s Day approaches this year, I have been reflecting on the life and legacy of my grandfather, Emil, who passed away at the age of 95 earlier this year. I spent more of my life with him than any of my other grandparents, giving me a deeper understanding of the wisdom he shared and the ways he shaped the character and personalities of my family.

Grandpa wasn’t outwardly affectionate; I am not sure I ever remember seeing him hug or show public affection to anyone. He showed love by working hard to support his family; he spent more than 40 years working six days a week on rotating shifts at the local paper mill and milking 40 to 50 head of cattle twice a day. He showed support to his grandchildren through generosity by buying 4-H and FFA project animals, getting us show supplies or making contributions to fund experiences that expanded our educations and broadened our horizons.

He didn’t give pep talks, preach life lessons or try to inspire by speech, but his ability to persevere and overcome obstacles inspires me. He began life in a home where only German was spoken. Though he and his siblings learned English at school, his mother never did. He and his brothers took responsibilities for running the farm at a young age because his father suffered injuries in World War I that prevented him from providing for the family. He left high school to serve in the Navy at the end of World War II and eventually completed his education after he returned from the service. At the age of 92, he crawled 150 yards with a broken hip after rolling his ATV, and instead of letting the injuries conquer him, he waited out his sentence of rehab at the nursing facility without complaint until he was healed enough to return home. 

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