Grandpas are the best! Part II

grandpa bill reading in my aunt donna's backyard

grandpa bill reading in my aunt donna’s backyard

I’ve taken time to talk about my grandpa Max, and likely to again, but I also want to talk about my grandpa Bill, whom I’m sure you’ll hear about multiple times also. As the title implies, I think most people agree that grandpas are pretty cool people and mine are no exception and in fact, I’d argue they’re the best. Yes, I know I’m being biased but I do have good reason for feeling this way.

I was blessed to have two grandpas who came from different backgrounds. I felt this meant I got the best of many worlds but also had two of the most kindest, funnest and interesting grandpas out here. Grandpa Max was a blue collar fellow, working 42 years on the Union Pacific Railroad. Grandpa Bill is highly educated and even taught at Stanford University. He speaks five languages! Holy cow!

Unfortunately, I don’t have quite as many memories of grandpa Bill as I was growing up because gramps lives here in California and I grew up in Denver, Colo. He would come and visit us though as much as he could. It was always a fun time when gramps came by. I don’t have as many memories when I was a kid, but the ones I do have are just as awesome. Since living in California, I have had a chance to hang out with him even more and that’s pretty special.

Box art of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Box art of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among my favorite memories is his naps. Both grandpas had a habit of needing naps. I didn’t understand it then but for grandpa Bill at least part of it was because of the change in elevation. When I was growing up, we always just referred to it as grandpa’s disease haha. My grandpa Max was always struck with it after a meal, particularly at Thanksgiving and for grandpa Bill was usually mid-day after an exhausting day of hanging out with us kids. I don’t have the picture with me but clearly in my head I can see my grandpa Bill sleeping on his side and my dad had set up all mine and my brother’s toys all over gramps. It was so great. He didn’t ever mind playing with my My Little Ponies and Patrick’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and whatever other little characters we had.

As a kid and now, I love hearing his stories about his travel. Grandpa Bill loves to travel and get to new places and it usually means somewhere outside of the country, hence all the languages – well at least part of it. Gramps loves to learn and that’s one of the things we have in common. To this day, gramps travels somewhere. It’s not as easy now as it once was but he’s still in pretty good health. I believe he, along with my brother and my dad are planning on going to Quebec. My brother isn’t much of a traveler but has experienced Canada via his special hockey team and seems to love it so he, gramps and dad are going this summer. It will be good for all of them.

Among my favorite stories of travel include my trip to Italy with my dad and gramps. As I said, gramps loves to travel and when I graduated from high school, my parents wanted to send me on a special trip and that turned out to be Italy. We have Italian friends and my parents wanted me to go see them. Gramps decided to come along and it was fantastic! Yes he helped with translation, but he also had plenty to say about the history of the country and added his sense of humor to the trip. This was before I got into photography so he and I kept making fun of my dad as he would take minutes upon minutes to set up the perfect photo. Of course, it was a good thing my dad did that because he took beautiful pictures. I have none of them with me of course, but trust me, they’re fabulous. It was also always fun to listen to my dad and gramps start talking about all kinds of things – the different elements of languages, etc. It was a very special time to spend that kind of time with gramps.

Ice cream and hikes or other various outings were common growing up with grandpa, at least according to media reports (this meaning my aunt Donna and uncle Liam – though I can confirm the ice cream bit. There was a lot of gelato eating while in Italy). I can actually confirm the hiking also because, despite not seeing gramps much growing up, when we did, there almost was always a hike or some other outing. My dad would be much the same which is why the Denver Zoo factored in my youth as much as it did – which is wonderful.



Aunt Donna tells me she remembers there would always be at least one big back packing trip for the year. There would be some task or contest, if you will, for the kids. Whoever accomplished it first would get the prize and in this case, all you can eat fast food. Liam corroborated those stories, giving plenty of similar examples. Ice cream was almost always a factor. My dad said he thinks gramps saw ice cream as an essential food group or just about. I’m okay with this. I’ve definitely benefited from this train of thought. To this day, when I go see gramps in Santa Cruz, we make a point of going to the local ice cream shop and if we don’t go there, we buy some ice cream for the house. Life just isn’t complete without some ice cream I tell ya, in moderation, of course.

The other big thing with grandpa Bill is language. I know I mentioned his speaking multiple languages but it’s not just knowing them or speaking other languages. As Liam told me, gramps loves puns. He has a great sense of humor and tends to love to joke using language. I’m sure this is where my dad gets it and how he became so articulate himself. Words are a big deal in the family. Words are a big deal with me. Nicknames are another element to that, but some of this I will reserve for another post.

So as you see, grandpa Bill is pretty different from grandpa Max but this is a good thing. I always enjoyed his company and always look forward to seeing him and talking to him. I’m glad that I live close enough (well sort of haha) to get to see him more often than I did. Actually, I’ve seen my aunt Donna and family more often also – all good stuff!


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