Thursday, January 3, 2013

Veteran's Day

Usually, I take time on Veteran's Day to tell the veteran's in my life thank you for their service to our country.

This year, one of the greatest veterans I know, my grandfather Robert Tornquist passed away on Veteran's Day. His passing was somewhat of a surprise to us, but we were all able to gather at the hospital and say our goodbyes. It has taken me two months to write about it because there is so much to say and I don't really know how.
I keep trying to write a summary of what I know about my grandpa to share with you and I have struggled with it. There's just too much to say and I don't feel like I could do the man justice.
My grandpa was a well-know, well-respected tractor expert. He was a WWII veteran. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and had amazing stories of warfare and survival. Above all, my grandpa was a family man, and he always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He was quick to joke with people and try to make them laugh. He was kind, so very kind. I have heard more stories than I can recount of times when he helped a family member, friend, or neighbor through a hard time. So many of my dad's stories started with, "We had this horse/goat/mule/cow/truck/car that my dad received as payment for doing x,y, or z for this farmer..." and every one of those stories ends with everyone laughing and me pondering how my father and his siblings survived their crazy and exciting childhood.
As a grandpa, he was always on the floor letting us ride on his back while we played horsey. He let us drive his riding lawnmower and his tractors. As we got older, he always knew of a detail to ask us about our lives, and even let us drive his treasured Model T. One of my favorite stories at the Celebration of Life for him is how Grandpa told one of grandkid's partners, who called him Mr. Tornquist, "If you're here, you better call me Grandpa."
Our family is large, and we have all gone separate ways, but we still come together for parties a few times a year. Christmas Day breakfast has always been amazing, because give or take one or two people, we all manage to meet up for a few hours. Last year it was 47 people, this year, adding three more babies would have made it 50, but we all felt Grandpa's absence. On our way home, Travis told me, "Grandpa always made his way around the crowd and talked to every single one of us. He made us all feel special."
I am honored to be a part of my family, and I have always held my name in high regard. I was raised with the idea that our name is well-known in this community and to represent it the best I possibly could. I will continue to honor my grandpa by living by the values he passed down to my dad who passed them down to me.

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