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For my 300th Post: a Celebration

Grandpa sharpening 2011We’ve got one more full day left here with Grandpa and Grandma before we head back home. It’s been a pretty emotional trip again. Last time I was so much a caregiver, I was “a bit off” in shock of that. This time I’ve been able to be more the grandson, but I still can’t get used to seeing Grandpa like this, but that’s how life goes – I’m just not used to dealing with it. Hospice came when we were in Niagara Falls and got him oxygen to help him breathe better. That’s hitting pretty close to home for me. It was almost too much.

We went to my uncle’s for an early Thanksgiving dinner last night and that was almost too much for him. Today’s been a day of relaxing and napping to recover. I’m not used to not being the sickest person in the house – I guess that’s a lot of what I’m dealing with. People accept things that happen over time better than quickly – this all seems to be moving too quickly for me. This isn’t how I want to remember Grandpa, so this post is a tribute to the man I’ve known my whole life. A rock. A pillow. A scrubbing pad face in the evening. šŸ˜‰

The business owner

Grandpa, better known as Ivan Sipes to the rest of the world, was born in 1930 across the field and country road from where I sit now. They bought this farm in the 1950s and raised 4 kids. He bought and owned Bolinger Implement Company with his best friend LeRoy Miller, Jr. and successfully sold John Deere machinery and supplies for many a year from 1957-1975. He was such a successful businessman, when we go to the county fair with them, the sons and grandsons of his customers know him by face and name and stop to chat. I used to be annoyed by that as a kid, but as a business owner myself, I can only hope I care enough about my clients that theirĀ descendantsĀ have such fond memories of how I take care of my customers.

The employee

He was still a ways away from retirement when they sold the store, so he went to work for a local feed mill, Liberty Mill. I remember going there many times, also. Folks would stop in just to talk to Grandpa; talk about the weather, the crops, and their families… “oh, and I’ll take 40lbs of this seed while I’m here.” I’m sure that many local farmers drove further than they had to just to be served by him.

The father and husband

I’ve heard him say he wishes he was around more when the kids were growing up, but it’s not like he traveled and left everyone to fend for themselves. I’m sure it’s not any different than how I feel I’m at the computer too much and too busy working to take a half-day with a good friend who needs to talk. That’s going to change. He did fine by my book, too. Each is responsible for their kids and regards him as highly as I’ve ever seen in a family. He and Grandma celebrated 60 years of marriage last summer and we ALL came to pay respect for such an achievement. Quite a clan and quite a gathering of the community that came from far and wide to the open house at church. So much to learn about marriage from them – just by observing – you don’t even need to ask questions.

The grandpa

I don’t know why, but I started to be an adult and respect Grandpa’s wisdom a few years before my parents’ wisdom. After graduation, I flew up at least every year for a holiday and loved coming for 4th of July, the county fair at Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. They’ve always been more than generous and overlooking my faults when I showed my immaturity. In 32 years, I’ve never heard him say anything bad about anyone past letting me know he doesn’t much care for someone’s actions or demeanor. How many people can you say that about?

Here are some other photos I love.


  1. I’m not sure why either, Jesse, but I think we almost all learn to respect our grandparents before we do our parents. Maybe it has to do with familiarity. šŸ˜‰

    Good writing again.

  2. Great stuff. Hard stuff. Thanks for showing your heart. Thanks also for some more “snapshots” of a man I have met but never really known. I expect the pictures will be wonderful reminders of your grandfather during the next season of life. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip when you get home.

  3. MeganMurray says

    Teared up the entire way through this post. Your grandpa sounds like am amazing man, and I’m so glad you’re able to spend an extended vacation with him. Thank you for sharing about his life and about your respect and love for him. This post was beautiful! Congratulations on post #300 as well!

  4. rburkhalter30 says

    Definitely stirred emotion in me about my own grandparents. I have none living as of 2006. All the things I wished I would have asked, all the time I wish I had… My Dad’s mom was my foundation. In July I had a moment of missing her like crazy. My Dad’s sister was visiting at the time. When I said, “I wish Grandma was here. She would understand.” My Aunt said, “I’m glad all the Grandkids feel that way about her, but she wasn’t like that for us growing up.” It’s strange what our Grandparents can be to us when we hear about what they weren’t to our parents. Enjoy your remaining time on The Farm. I’m glad you recognize what you have in these visits.

  5. MiddleAgedLady says

    What a lovely post! And thanks for including the photos. I’m so glad you’re getting to spend quality time with him. I never had a grandpa — one died before I was born and the other vaporized when my dad was born — so I’m enjoying living vicariously through you! Keep ’em coming!