Monday, November 6, 2017

Remembering Grandpa

Memory is a curious thing. Frederick Buechner describes memory as a room we can visit. When I visit Grandpa, the room has the sweet smell of an after-dinner William Penn cigar and the sounds of an old-time radio show. Melvin Halverson is sitting in his easy chair attended like royalty by my sister and me. I get his slippers and reading glasses. Mary gently brushes the remaining wisps of white hair around his crown. He has names for us. Mary is “krudling the old booster” and I am the “man with the glass nose and the tin ears.” Krudling is Norse for “sweetie”.
The 13th of 14 children born on a farm in Mishicot, WI, Melvin went to Luther College and became a pastor. I never heard him preach but I savor a collection of his hand-written sermons. Each morning he would begin the day in his study and have a conversation with God. With farming in his background, Good Shepard was one of his favorite ways to address God. His sermons were poetic and lyrical, no doubt inspired by the music played on the pump organ in his childhood home. My mom’s favorite memory was picking blueberries in the North Woods with her dad. Perhaps the best thing about that “room” of memories is we never know when we might be surprised by the aroma of a cigar or the taste of blueberries or a fugue by Bach.

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