While digging through some old correspondence and tax papers today, I came across a copy of a letter that my oldest son, Nick, wrote to his grandfather (my dad) on December 7, 2008. We had all spent that weekend in Noel, Missouri, to witness an honor that was bestowed upon my father by the small town that he had called home for over half a century. He was the Grand Marshal of the Noel Christmas Parade. Nick and his son, Boone, had headed back to their home in West Plains, Missouri, the next day, and that evening as my dad was preparing to go to bed, he suddenly appeared in the room where I was staying. He had tears in his eyes as he handed me a letter that Nick had left for him on his bed. I was so touched that I asked him to make me a copy. It follows:
Thank you so much for having us over this weekend. That was great seeing you get to be Grand Marshal in the parade! Boone has talked about it for weeks now and bragged to everyone about it.
I'm sorry we don't make it over as much as we should. Each time we make the drive over I tell myself we should more often. I'm going to try to make it back in a couple of weeks and maybe we can go have Chinese again or something.
I think you're right about me going back to school and always am open for advice.
I don't say it enough, but thank you for always being such a great grampa. Some of my best childhood memories are of times when we came to visit you. Remember how we would always walk down to the drug store and get a soda? And you always had a stick of Wrigley's Spearmint for me.
I've learned a lot from you over the years. I guess you could say you're kind of a role model for me. And I like seeing how Boone listens and looks up to you too. He loves to hear stories about growing up here.
Thanks for being such a great Grandfather. We love you.
Nick and Boone
The following year Nick and Boone and my other son, Tim and his wife Erin, made it to Noel twice during my dad's final month - even preparing his Thanksgiving meal. I will always be so glad that they got to spend that extra bit of time with him. Dad passed away unexpectedly that Christmas day.