Wednesday, October 21, 2009

black sheep

We all have that one relative that pushes the envelope a little, wouldn't you agree? The one people tilt their head to one side when talking about. Sometime tongue clicking or shaking head motion will follow. I know you understand.

Mine is Grandpa Gus, a surly old fellow that claims he was kicked out of school for eating the books. Lied about his age to join the merchant marines at 15 years old. Tattoos, oh yeah he had bunches before they were even remotely cool. My how I wish I had taken a picture of them... He had a giant eagle on his chest, arms and if I recall it was on his back too. My favorite tattoo of his was a question mark right above his pants waistline. When I asked him why he had chosen that he smirked and told me "so the ladies will ask about it". He married 4 times. Even with his tough exterior he still had a soft touch.

 This picture he carried in his wallet for probably 60 years, his father and him on his motorcycle.

 My Dad bailed him out of jail many a time because he just could not seem to remember not to drive his car after he had been drinking. Drinking, he did far to much of that!

When I was 5 he tricked me into eating his Copenhagen chewing tobacco because it was candy, I am embarrassed to say I fell for that more then once. 

He liked to watch my eyes light up as he would tell me about being stabbed in the mess hall while at sea. Then when I grew and had kids he liked to watch their eyes light up too.

He died a couple years ago after living a hard life, he lived longer then I think any of us thought he would. In the end he stayed with my family for a period of time. My, how my kids loved having Grandpa Gus here. He watched the Discovery channel all day, was always looking for a cookie or candy, and believed no one made better coffee then Hills Brothers.

One day he finished off a jar of the kids Gummi Vitamins because he thought they were candy...Dementia, yeah he had that too. He spoke Swedish like his mother before him and loved teaching us the Swedish words for things in the house. Not all rated G either words either.

One little quirk he had was ketchup on everything... the only things he said he would not use it on was cantaloupe and ice cream.

Why do I write this today, so I do not forget him. Remember your crazy, push the envelope relatives, don't let their memory disappear. They are part of the fabric of you. He is the stuff stories are written about. He lived his life on his terms. I am really nothing like him other then the fact that I tend to put BBQ sauce on much of what I eat. I still love to think about him though and what kind of life he lived.


Sue said...

Great, great story! I truly enjoyed it. I love relatives like that. My dad was quite a character. Lived to 86, and in the end died of Alzheimers. But while he had the dementia thing going, he too had some great stories for my kids as they grew up. Take care, Sue

Pat said...

Sounds like such a colorful character and a great guy! My Dad's name was also Gus :) We have some funny stories about him that we tell over and over, too.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I want a Grandpa Gus! He sounds so amazing and too good to be true!

Jan's Place USA and Mt Forest Pictures said...

First... love the Halloween effects on your Bloggy!

Second.. you are absolutely right, as rotten as that old guy could be, I remember at least one of his wives saying when he wasn't drinking he was an angel on this earth.(.I don't know that I would of gone that far!!)

Lets just say if you knew him, you would not forget him!

Meeko Fabulous said...

Tamis, this was such a beautiful story to share. Thank you so much. You've inspired me . . . One day I'll write about my Nana. Cheers to you my friend! :)

arukind said...

Thanks for sharing this. As a teen (and even when older) I often thought of Grampa Gus as sometimes difficult to deal with and so painfully honest it hurt. But, as he aged and things went like they did I learned to appreciate him for the sweet man he really could be. I wish I could be as straight forward as he & not give a damn what anyone else thought! RIP.

The Good Cook said...

Tamis - what a great post and tribute to your Grandpa Gus. And you are right - we all have those quirky, sometimes troublesome relatives who fail to follow the mold of straight and narrow. Good for you for celebrating his life.

Don't forget him and keep telling your kids about him. "Kicked out of school for eating the books" - you got'ta love that!

trash talk said...

Beautiful, loving post Tamis. I loved every word! I wouldn't call ol' Gus a black sheep...more like leader of the pack. I can only imagine the stories he DIDN'T tell...woo hoo!
When you're a character like him, how can you tell when it's dementia and not just him being him?
I'm pretty sure I'll be the one the kids will be telling stories on some day...though nothing like his! He should of wrote a book.

rachel... said...

Sounds a lot like my grandpa, including the Navy and the giant eagle tattoo across the chest. Such sweet memories, I'm glad you shared. :)

I like BBQ sauce on everything, too!

Eva Gallant said...

I had an Uncle--Uncle Doc-- who was the character in our family. I remember him doing the hula in a grass skirt made of corn husks at a family reunion.

The Good Cook said...

I want to go to Eva's family reunions. I'll cook. I promise... can I? Can I?

Debbie said...

Excellent post! If we didn't have those crazy relatives, life would be so boring.

kanishk said...

We have some funny stories about him that we tell over and over, too. Work From Home

prashant said...

He sounds so amazing and too good to be true!
Work From Home

Cousin B said...

Hey, I noticed you were new to my blog, so I jumped over to check out yours...Nice story about Gus! Makes me start thinking about some of my special relatives that have passed. thanks for that...Love your blog!

kanishk said...

Great, great story! I truly enjoyed it.
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