Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Tribute.

(Wherein I try to remember all of the things that I can remember.)

Some of the memories are passed onto me as part of my family's collective memories. Other memories are my own. Both are intertwined with memories of my grandfather. It is hard for me to separate them somehow, beloved G & G Hunt.

I know that my granny and grandpa first met in Idaho, when they were each going to school. My grandpa first fell in love with my granny because of her legs. She was almost 6'0", and they were long and very beautiful. After watching her play tennis once, he told his friend the thing people of his generation tended to tell other people of his generation: that he was going to marry her, a girl he hardly knew. On their first walk home from somewhere they held hands in his coat pocket. Not too terribly long after, he did marry her. They eventually moved to Oregon where they would both be school teachers. She taught younger grades and he older ones. Their summers were spent back in Idaho, at Red Fish Lake, where they were the forest rangers. In many ways, my dad and his siblings grew up there. As a child myself I craved those particular stories and memories the most--my dad could never tell enough. Their family had a little motor boat, and during those summers my granny became adept not only at waterskiing but at waterskiing on one ski. Everyone reports that she was the best. She was also a great artist, painter, seamstress, and maker of raspberry jam. When we were younger she would paint a watercolor for our birthday cards. My favorite was when I was in the 4th grade. It featured a little girl that looked a little like me as a ballerina. My grandpa was a great gardener, and teacher, and coach--everything from baseball to basketball to track. He also inspired many others to go into teaching and coaching. When my dad went to one of his high school reunions, he couldn't count the number of his fellow students who came up to him and told him that they were teachers because of his dad. My 8th grade science teacher was one of these, even though we lived on the whole other side of the state. My granny and grandpa were both sports enthusiasts, and my grandpa was definitely the type who would bear his testimony about the Cougar's win on a fast Sunday, and occasionally miss out on church if they suffered a loss: It effected him so greatly.

Their house in Eastern Oregon was a child's dream home. It had a hot tub, a loft, a gigantic garden, a gigantic field, a shop, a riding lawn mower they would let you drive if you were very good, beautiful paintings, and all sorts of nicknacks and toys my adult self would think are tacky, but that my childhood self adored. It had a close proximity to a strange pool called Radium, that was filled with water from a natural hot springs and was previously closed, but still open to friends, including my gran and grandpa. The pool smelled terrible, and was in some parts green and slimy, but is the backdrop for some of my favorite childhood memories. One end also had several old bathtubs in the middle of the water. For reasons I still don't understand, the water inside the bathtubs was exponentially hotter than the water outside it. And that, that is where you would find my granny. As kids we would swim up to say hello, occasionally test the temperature in her pool, and swim quickly away. Their house was also near some great places to go sledding in winter time, and the great Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in any weather time. And then there was the basement. The basement alone would be enough to make their house fulfill a child's dream. The steps going down were steep and bordered with boxes upon boxes of soda. (There were even more boxes underneath each stair.) Then the bottom of the basement was filled with bags and bags of candy, as well as all of the other junk food you can imagine. We were allowed to have anything down there, and we were allowed to drink every soda but Fresca. That was for my granny alone. She didn't think little children could appreciate it sufficiently, which in turn of course made us want it more. My cousin Shane and I once made a dumb home film in which sneaking Fresca was the whole plot. We of course filled our granny in on the movie, and she played an important role, standing in the kitchen and shaking her fist at us as we ran by. Many other (better) home movies were filmed there, some with cousins and some with only siblings. Two of the finest were titled "Safeway Cereal," and "Pelvis and the Mafia."

It was almost just as nice when granny and grandpa visited us. They would show up in their Dophin motor home, that they used to visit almost every state, and bring candy with them, in the form of a "magic sack." I think it was just a brown paper bag, but it was magic to us. My grandpa would hold it out and we would have to close our eyes and stick our little fist in. Whatever we grabbed is what we grabbed. No trading. I suddenly realize that they were a little like walking Halloween. They brought Halloween to us (and every other holiday). Decorations have always been important to them, and no matter what the holiday is, they would go all out, with all of the crazy yard and house things possible. They also had one million different flags for their front flag pole, even celebrating such simple things as Spring. Their Christmas lights were up year round, and while I now know that it was probably because it was getting too hard to take down, when I was a child I just thought they were extra festive, which they were. For many years my granny made every grandchild homemade pajamas. There was usually a theme, and we would always model them for everyone. I remember being very small, and feeling so cool as it was my turn to walk down the stairs and turn and twirl to show off my new jammies. Before my time, there was a superhero year, and I think a sports year. Either way, one of those years, and one of those sets of pajamas (most likely the sports one) had numbers on it. H was 1 because he was the first grandchild. My cousin Jamie was 2, and down the line. It was also at Christmas that my grandpa would bring out all of his toys: his train set, his jumping dogs, and so forth. Again: child's dream. I know that my love for the 4th of July has something to do with my grandpa's love for it, and that on one particular 4th we were setting off fireworks not permitted in our new town. My granny was there, and when the police officer came, she charmed our collective way out of trouble, by explaining that she was a visitor and so forth. One more note on their motor home, we would be so anxious for them to arrive that the only way my mom could settle us down was to make a game out of guessing what time they'd get there. I don't think the winner won anything, aside from the satisfaction of being the closest. We were so excited for the Dolphin to pull up beside our house.

In the same city as the close fireworks call, but in a different house, we had a trampoline, and rose bushes. (Those two things become important.) Some of the younger kids were showing my grandpa all of the tricks and flips they could do on the trampoline, and he was filming them. My granny came out to show my grandpa a new shirt she had made, with crazy beads. (She was always very proud of her accomplishments and crafts.) A scream comes from the direction of the trampoline, and my little brother flies off, landing in the rosebush. I think a thorn went through his ear. (We might have called him Rosey for a long time afterward, and I at least might feel very sorry for that.) My grandpa was still filming, but was distracted by my granny, so you don't see my brother land, only disappear. It is a tad of a sad/funny/sad story, but is to demonstrate that my granny also loved to show the things that she did and created, and that she was always creating something. Her bedroom was full of paints and nicknacks and gaudy jewelry, and one of my cousins shared, and I agree, that it always felt so special to be invited into that prized space. Among the gaudy jewelry, there were dozens (maybe even hundreds) of gaudy watches. And then dozens (or hundreds) more gaudy clocks throughout the house. Some made bird sounds, others sang songs. My own house might have had a complete absence of clocks growing up (aside from the faithful microwave) to compensate for this abundance.

When I was 14 they moved to Utah, from our shared home state of Oregon. I'm not even really sure how it happened, but I ended up staying with them in Utah that first summer. It was wonderful. We would make food together, and garden together (in their now much smaller garden), and eat snow cones, and go swimming, or to movies and outdoor plays. Of the latter two, I remember watching the Truman Show together in a theater, and Singn' in the Rain performed outside. Other times I would ride my granny's stationary bike beside her as she sat in her chair and watched bad game shows. I will always be thankful for that summer, and the time I was able to spend with them alone. It is priceless.

As already mentioned, both of my paternal grandparents loved sports. What was not mentioned is that my granny was introduced to fantasy sports about five years ago. She would play on a team with my dad, brothers, uncles, and cousins, and sometimes she would win. She took it very seriously, and became adept at using the computer and internet, proving that some old dogs can learn new tricks. If she didn't know how to do something, she would ask my dad for help, and he would give her the knowledge necessary to beat him. She would also have multiple televisions going in her house at any given time, each playing a different game, so she could go between them and see how her players were doing. She never wanted to miss anything. This made it a fun place to visit, but never a very quiet one (even with a significantly reduced number of clocks), which was amusing to me, because I remember my oldest brother telling me that her house was where he escaped his first few years at BYU when he needed to rest.

Not very many years ago I was able to attend her ward/congregation with her on Mother's Day. She was giving a speech. She talked about her own mom and grandmother, but the only line I remember is about her. She said, "I'm happy being a happy mother," and she was. She loved her children and grandchildren, which made it so easy to love her back. The last thing I will mention, is that she always expected a hug and a kiss hello, and a hug and a kiss goodbye. From everyone. Boy or girl. And that kiss was expected to be on the lips. More often than not she got it.

Granny Jammies!
(I am the littlest girl on the right.)


The Brownies said...

That was so nice to read and see similarities between Billy and Donna...the candy, the soda, the gardening, etc. Awesome.

Rachel. said...

So many things. I sure love those Gooing sisters. You may be pleased to know that we followed your cousins examples by wearing our granny's gaudy jewelry at the services, and also at the services my dad gave a talk in which he said "Donna was the greatest aunt in the world." I would add that she was also the greatest Great aunt in the world. We are all so lucky.

Cumorah said...

Rachie, holy moly, you have been a busy little record keeper. love it all.