Father Figures

I’m months behind on blogging about my trip to Washington (still!) and thought it was fitting that my next set of pictures were from time spent with my dad and my grandpa. Since I couldn’t celebrate Father’s Day in person, this will have to be the next best thing.

My dad is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet and I know that’s a grand proclamation but it’s true. I’ve always known him as Dr. John; he ran a chiropractic clinic with his dad and sister for over 30 years and I can remember many nights where he’d get home only to turn around again and make a house call for one of his elderly patients. I used to love visiting him at the office because he would let me call the patients down to the exam rooms and I felt very important. After I graduated from college, I was shocked to hear he was selling the clinic and becoming a correctional officer. I’m still not used to seeing him in uniform but he loves it and sometimes will work weeks on end without a day off.

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While he was certainly an amazing chiropractor, Johnny Oscar excelled in many other areas as well. In his younger years, he was an accomplished athlete playing football, rugby and training as a long distance runner. He is also a gifted artist and no doubt has passed much of his drawing talent down to my brother, Stein. On top of running his chiropractic clinic and raising elementary aged children, he went to night school at Seattle Art Institute for a short time. This was before Photoshop and InDesign so he was creating pasteboards into the wee hours of the morning with unbelievable accuracy. His instructors even questioned some of his work because the level of perfection was so high. I’m not sure when the man slept but somehow he managed it all. I’m fairly confident the spray mount fumes and his nightly can of Rainier beer helped propel him along.

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While all of those accomplishments are certainly noteworthy, they are not the greatest things about my dad. Ever since I can remember, he has told me two things: “you can be anything and do anything you want to do” and “Jesus loves you no matter what.” My dad is not perfect by any means and we’ve had our ups and downs just like any other family. But those two pieces of advice have never changed. And they have served me well over the past 30 years. So Daddy, thank you for believing in me and teaching me Truth; for always bringing home strange gifts for me from the thrift store; and for providing for us all these years. Even though you scared me into thinking our front door was being opened by the ghost of Grandpa Hans, I forgive you. Happy Father’s Day!

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Meet my mom’s dad; my Grandpa Robert. He is one suave fella and an outrageous smart aleck. Originally from a tiny island in Northern Norway, he left home at 16 and became a merchant marine. After WWII, he immigrated to the US with my grandma in tow. They landed at Ellis Island and all my grandma knew about America was that it was full of gangsters. So she was terrified and when they got to their little room, she checked under the bed and in all the closets, utterly convinced that someone was hiding in there waiting to kill her. Upon arriving in the States, my grandpa promptly stopped speaking Norwegian to my grandma and responded only in English because he felt she needed to learn the language. Years later, when she brought this up, he would get a smirk on his face that would have all of us cracking up.

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Suffice it to say, Grandpa Robert is a bit of a stubborn punk and we all love him for it. Even though his body won’t form the words anymore, you can still tell when he’s making fun of you. I will never forget coming home to visit when I was five months pregnant. I looked like I was about to pop and my grandpa took one look at me, did his signature smirk then patted my belly and started laughing at me. The first time I introduced him to the Sarge, we were visiting him at the nursing home. He looked at Jason, then looked at me and said, “Han er ikke norske” (he’s not Norwegian). I said that no, he was Polish, not Norwegian. And my grandpa just shook his head in mock disapproval then laughed at us.

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I could devote an entire blog to the life of my grandpa and never run out of stories to tell. He came to America with practically nothing and built an incredible legacy. An accomplished wood carver and a great man of God; I am so lucky to call Robert my grandpa. I’m grateful for his generosity over the years from help with music lessons to travels to Europe. His beautiful carved pieces are some of my most treasured decorations in my home. And every time my little monster of a toddler asserts her independence, I see a little glimpse of the old, stubborn Norwegian man she calls Oldefar. Happy Father’s Day and happy birthday, Bestefar. Gratulerer med dagen; jeg er så glad i deg!!

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