Memories: Remembering my grandfather

I have been posting some memories of growing up but thought I’d post on a different topic this week. I have been remembering a lot of things this week but they have to do with my grandfather, my mother’s father. He passed away this week, at the age of 96 and at odd moments I find I am remembering different things about him that happened or I heard while growing up.

My grandfather was born in 1914, in Colorado, the 4th child of 7 children. One of the children died in infancy, the other six all grew to adulthood. There was quite an age spread between the siblings, I believe my great grandmother had her last child at the age of 46 or 47. My grandpa never talked much about what it was like growing up at that time but from one of his sister’s memories and other bits and pieces here are some of the things he did while growing up.

  • When he was in his early teens he helped to build a par three golf course in the area because he loved golf so much
  • One time he supposedly decided to disappear for a few days and came back during dinner time. He sat down to dinner and the only comment was “Please pass the peas”, with no questions on where he had been.
  • He enjoyed being with his baby sister and she remembers him taking her swimming, on his back, in a pond that was by their house.

Not a lot of information about his growing up but all items that fit in with the adult he grew into. He loved to played golf and it was only in his 80’s that he had to give up the game due to problems walking. He also liked children. And he was definitely mischievous and a tease, fitting in quite well when playing with his grandchildren when they came to visit.

As he grew into adulthood I don’t know of many stories but I do know that he did some of the following.

  • He became an adult during the depression. He worked his way through college and medical school, finishing up medical school around the time the depression ended.
  • While going to college or medical school, he met my grandmother as he walked by her house each day. I believe her parents invited him in for a meal because he looked so underfed, or at least that’s how the story goes. These two were a good match, both having a love of sports and being active. Both golfed together until my grandmother had problems getting around in her late 70’s or early 80’s
  • While completing his residency for medical school he started a family with my grandmother. Shortly after finishing this he was called up to serve in the Army in World War II. He managed to father my uncle before leaving but didn’t see his son for two years while serving in the military.
  • As a doctor who valued life a great deal my grandfather talked very little about his time in the military. The only story I heard was of him being called out one night to try and treat someone who had been shot in the barracks by a sniper bullet. By the time he got there it was too late and you could see the regret he had over that.

After the war ended, my grandmother and he moved around Wyoming a bit until they settled down in a small town in the northern part of the state. He started a practice in the basement of his house. He would take payment of potatoes or chickens during those early years. Somehow he built up enough business that he was able to buy a building in the downtown and also buy equipment, including an X-Ray machine. Nowadays this doesn’t seem like much but the fact that he was able to get enough money to own these items was pretty impressive to me while growing up. He also did many different things for the small town they lived in.

  • He helped get a hospital and nursing home built to serve the two small towns in the area
  • He served on the school board for several years. He helped to get a swimming pool for the high school and the town to use
  • One of his proudest achievements, I suspect, was helping to get a golf course built. My cousins and I spent a lot of time out there with him and my grandmother. I marvel at his patience at trying to play golf while also riding herd on young children. Especially young children who wanted to drive the golf cart and who did not necessarily have top notch driving skills. I don’t remember the cart being driven into the creek that ran through the course but that doesn’t meant that some grandchild might have come close.

And in between all of this he ran a busy medical practice, performing house calls and raising a family. My mother remembers going with him to the hospital and stopping once at an accident so he could offer aid. He was always very service minded, sometimes to the detriment of his family, and always working to give back to the community.

Myself, it’s so odd to think of him not being here. He was such a solid presence that the family was built around. I have so many memories of him running through my head as I write this. Things like:

  • Playing with us when we were younger, roughhousing and almost breaking furniture, just like us kids
  • Teasing my grandmother just to get her peeved with him
  • Out golfing with his friends
  • Getting called away to the office or the hospital for some medical emergency
  • Listening to medical tapes in his car so he could keep up with the latest medical breakthroughs
  • Going to the elementary school in his 80’s to read to young boys who were considered hyperactive and needed some extra help
  • Helping him setup a computer for playing chess and writing letters in his 70’s and 80’s
  • Seeing him take college classes into his 80’s in order to keep his mind active.

As I think of all of the things he did in his life and how full a life he led, I feel that if I do even half of the things he did I will have lived a very full life. It will be hard to say that final good bye to him in a couple of days, so I want to share these memories of him to keep him alive in my heart for a bit longer.

1/10/1914 to 5/25/2010 – Rest in Peace to Dr. Anthony Rogers, who joins his wife Elizabeth Wilson Rogers, you will be missed by your family.