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Happy Birthday Grandpa

Heidi Shenk

My grandfather has been on my mind a lot lately. Understandably so as today would have been his birthday. He passed away on the 20th of October last year. I was lucky to have been able to spend a lot of time with him growing up, and it was always a priority for me to spend time with both him and my grandmother every time I returned home to Indiana.

He was a serious man, but at the same time told jokes that made him laugh so hard he could barely breath. He was a religious man that served as a Mennonite pastor in many capacities, but at the same time was able to accept even the things he may not have agreed with. He was studious, and I don't think there was a time that I could ever remember him without a book nearby.

He was quite the storyteller. We'd enjoy a long meal on a Sunday afternoon while he told us stories of various events in his life. During the Christmas season we'd gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols in four part harmony, his deep bass voice booming. And on New Year's Eve he'd be the first standing at the dinner table during our traditional fondue dinner so that he could scrape the last of the cheese from the bottom of the pot.

When I was a child, he and my grandmother would take me to South Haven, Michigan where we'd stroll the beach on Lake Michigan picking out colorful stones and the occasional piece of sea glass. We'd go hiking in the woods at the camp across from my grandparents' house. He kept me entertained with a simple game, trapping me between his legs until I could free myself with the "magic button" somewhere on his knee. We'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a huge brush bonfire in their large yard.

As I grew older, he was proud of my endeavors at Syracuse University, inquisitive about my adventures in Australia, and always happy to hear about my triumphs and challenges in the Baltimore City classroom. He always questioned me with the best of intentions to push me to learn even more.

My grandfather was quite the amazing man and not a day goes by that I don't think of him. He is greatly missed. Happy birthday Grandpa!


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