I remember growing up my grandpa used to scare me. Looking back it was clear having granddaughters made him a bit uncomfortable. Not because he didn’t love or care about us but because he didn’t know what to do with us. My dad has 3 brothers and my sister and I were the only granddaughters out of six grandchildren. My grandpa also didn’t have any sisters. He simply wasn’t use to girls. Throw in the fact that we would cry, and it was a recipe for discomfort.

My siblings and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up. We would spend a lot of time at their cabin during the summer. It was a long car ride and my grandparents would often take two vehicles when traveling to it. If I was offered a choice on who to ride with, I nearly always chose to ride with my grandpa. I can’t exactly tell you why – it wasn’t like we talked the whole way. We simply enjoyed each other’s company.

Often we would pass cows on our way. My grandpa grew up on a dairy farm and made it his mission to ensure his grandchildren knew all the types of cows. I threw a wrench in that plan. I never learned the types of cows. He tried so hard to teach me. When I was maybe 3-4 years old, my Grandpa and I were traveling to the cabin. We passed a bunch of cows and my grandpa asked what kind of cows they were. I simply replied “your relatives.”

Reading that you may think I was a pretty bold or sassy young lady. However, my parents used to joke that cows were my dads relatives and monkeys were my moms relatives. So clearly the sole blame for this incident was on my parents.

After that incident, whenever my Grandpa and I were together and saw cows, he’d ask me what type of cow it was. Not to see if I knew, but to see if I was bold enough to tell him they were his relatives again. It became an inside joke for us. It is one of the longest, most treasured memories I have of my Grandpa.

I also remember always wanting to go fishing with him. Oh how he loved to fish. He was so patient when it came to teaching me to fish. He never was mean but made me do everything. He directed me and was clearly proud when I caught my fish. He also taught me how to prepare the fish to cook. It’s been at least 10 years since I had to gut a fish, but I guarantee I could still do it.

It’s been about 3 years since I saw him in person. He chain smoked and when I got pregnant with our first, Tim and I decided I couldn’t be around the smoke nor could our kids. Life took over and soon 3 years had passed. My biggest regret is that I didn’t make it a point to call him, I didn’t make it a point to see him, I didn’t make him a priority. I feel horrible that this was the case. Now I’ll never get the chance to spend more time with him. However, I can attempt to teach my kids all the different kinds of cows. Maybe they’ll be like my siblings and cousins and learn. Or maybe they’ll be like me and tell me they are my relatives. Time will tell.