On my 14th birthday, my Great Grandpa Leonard looking through photos with my Uncle Jim.
This Memorial Day I will remember my Great Grandpa Leonard. Grandpa was a quiet guy but when he spoke it was worth hearing. At family gatherings he sat quietly observing all the hustle and bustle and when he was ready to leave, he quietly slipped out the back door without anyone knowing.
Every Monday he drove to Sioux City to do his shopping. Every week he drove to the hills and went hiking with his camera, snapping photos of flowers and plants that would later line the photo albums on his full book shelves.
He did crosswords religiously and had books of completed ones stacked by his rocker. He always had something sweet for us to snack on at his house, and on Halloween he gave out apples to all the kids. He'd tally how many trick or treaters he got and then my dad would call so they could compare.
Grandpa ate dinner every night at 4:30 at the Beef 'n Brew in downtown Mapleton. He was a person of routine and habit. He had the best old toys to play with at his house and his walls were lined with old family photos in which he knew the names of every person pictured.
Every year for Christmas he got all got all of us a $20 gift card to the mall and I'd always use mine to buy books. He let me borrow some of his old books and I'd read them over and over smelling the pages that smelled like his house.
When he still lived on the farm, we'd all go to his house on the 4th of July for a huge barbecue and fireworks. All the boys would light stink bombs and the kids would run around with sparklers. We ate homemade ice cream and ran around until it was time to go home.
Grandpa Leonard left this world in a style true to his character, quietly. And on Memorial Day weekend he was buried. I cry right now remembering how hard we all sobbed at his funeral as my uncle played taps. But I know now he's living on thorough all of us and I think if he were still around today, we'd have a lot to talk about.