At the Knees of My Grandparents

I always loved when Grandma and Grandpa Egbert came to visit. Climbing into bed and snuggling between them, I always fought off sleep to ask, “Tell me a story from when you were little, please?” Soon I could tell the stories better than they could, and I could remember the details that they had forgotten. After I had grown too big to snuggle in between them, I often reflected on those stories they shared and drew wisdom from them. I believe we can draw strength from our grandparents’ experiences.

Why wait to learn for ourselves the lessons our grandparents already learned? All we have to do is ask. I have heard family stories help children to better understand other’s emotions and thoughts. They help teenagers to feel connected and grounded. Family stories can even help adults to remember more and become better storytellers. Who doesn’t want that?

Grandma often told stories of falling from barn windows, two stories up. Or, passing out in school only to wake up long after the class had been dismissed. I often wondered what others thought when this had happened and why no one had helped her. I have found myself hovering close to those hurt or distraught, trying to help and soothe them. I’d like to think I’m helping out because I wished someone had been there to help or comfort my grandma.

Grandpa was always busy doing something like fixing things or getting his crops to grow. Whenever they came to visit, he always fixed what was broken and made my toys “better” in some way. Grandpa’s bedtime stories were usually about life on the farm. He grew up on a farm in Idaho, then homesteaded a farm in Washington. Hard work was forever in his life. I love being innovative like him and fixing things that people think can’t be fixed. I’d like to think I get that from Grandpa, that I learned the value of hard work from him.

My other grandpa, Grandpa Papenfuss, taught at Ricks College and I remember him behind his desk in the office down the long hallway. Even now, years after he has retired and died, people stop me to ask if he was my grandpa. When I say yes, they start telling me stories about him wandering behind students and making them too nervous to type, or of him helping out a student who had fallen on hard times. When I think of all the good I saw my grandpa do while teaching, I know why I enjoy teaching others as well.

My other grandma, Grandma Papenfuss, sews all the time. She can make any clothing item you want, plus blankets and pillows and stuffed animals. I remember heading to her house to show her a new pattern for a dress or skirt I wanted to make. I enjoyed spending the afternoon with her as we sewed and talked about her family. Most visits ended with a homemade dinner. I love that she showed me the joy in home keeping.

Some nights, as my five-year-old snuggles in his bed in between me and his bear, he remembers to ask me for a story about his grandma great or his grandpa great when they were his age. I smile, remembering those precious nights when I snuggled in with my grandparents to learn the life lessons I base my life on now.

I believe the time to learn from our grandparents is now. There is so much we can learn from them. I learned compassion, hard work, the love of teaching and homemaking, and so much more from my grandparents. Yes, there is much I will have to learn on my own, but for now, learning these lessons have enriched my life.

And this is why I share my family history with my children.

 

(This blog post has been included in the Family Locket’s blog link up for March 21, 2017. Come check out why some other people share family history with children by clicking here.)

 

Wedding Wednesday- Elaine and Howard

1970 Elaine Papenfuss & Howard Jaten wedding  reception

Elaine Papenfuss and Charles Howard Jaten

Married
21 November 1970
Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho

Elaine Papenfuss is my Paternal Grandpa’s sister.  I’m related to Charles too but I can’t remember how other than it’s through my Paternal Grandma.  They never had any kids together but lived out their lives together. After they retired and were done with their LDS missions they lived in Rexburg Idaho, this is where I came to know them. Every evening they would take a walk up and down the road they lived on.

I always knew Charles as “Uncle Howard”. He was married to Loa Jensen before he married Aunt Elaine. My favorite memory of Uncle Howard happened one 4th of July after 1998. One thing you have to know before I get too far is Uncle Howard by this point in life walked VERY SLOWLY…. Like a shuffle. I’m not exaggerating, in fact I’m probably not painting the picture well enough.  Anyways, we were all over at my Uncle Rick and Aunt Karen’s house to do fireworks. Uncle Rick nailed one of those spinning fireworks to the fence post in front of us. He lit it and stepped away.  As it was spinning it came loose from the fence post! The firework, still lit, came FLYING towards us! Uncle Howard LEAPED out of his chair and RAN away from the firework. We were all SHOCKED! We soon recovered and poor Uncle Howard never lived that day down. We still chuckle about this when we get together and something reminds us of it.

Aunt Elaine has always had a special place in my heart. I really got to know her while I was in middle school. She helped run the after school homework club program and I stayed after to attend. I rode home with her most of the time. I don’t remember what we talked about but I grew to love her and her passion for learning. I even remember giving her an art project, a heart made of cut apart pieces of paper. Years later when I went to her house to help her clean it out she still had that art piece on the fridge.

Aunt Elaine was diagnosed with cancer. My dad drove her to her treatments. It was horrible to see her go through them. She grew so weak. But she would still greet you with a smile. I loved her smile. As she grew weaker she and Howard decided to move to an assisted living facility closer to one of his kids out of state. Living nearby I volunteered to help her decide where her worldly possessions should go (Family, donate or throw away). I learned a lot about her earlier life through this and gained quite a few of her things. I have her Ricks College sweat shirt (since renamed Brigham Young University- Idaho); she was working there and suggested that my grandpa come work at the college in the business department. So many things could have turned out differently if he hadn’t come to Ricks College to teach, like my parents meeting….. I have a dress from a trip she took to Hawaii. I have her Master’s paper on Pride and Prejudice, it’s on Mr. Darcy. I  have yet to finish Pride and Prejudice, but had to keep it for all the work I know she put into it.

My favorite item(s) that I received from Aunt Elaine was her books. She had boxes and boxes of books! More than half the books I own are from her. I ended up giving a lot of them away when I was married, but I still have a lot of them. When I told my Grandma that I had a lot of her books she smiled and told me of one of the last conversations she had with Elaine. Elaine had been worried that no one was going to love her books once she was gone. The thought made her really sad. I learned this after Elaine had passed away so I hope when she passed one she learned that I love her books.

I’m so glad I am able to write this. Elaine was an incredible woman. I will always look up to her. She was very smart. My dad told me once that she use to quiz them all on their spelling and would ALWAYS correct their grammar. I may have gotten her love of reading but I did not get that from her.

Love you Aunt Elaine! I will always remember you every time I pick up a book to read.