Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Grandpa Jim

I have so many memories of my Grandpa Jim. It's hard to sift through them all to tell you a little about him. I could go on for days, that's for sure, but I'll try not to.
A very young Grandpa Jim and Grandma Margie.
When all my cousin's and I were kids (I have something like 15 or so cousins), we would go to the Country Club (because everyone in my family is obsessed with playing golf), and Grandpa would line us all up at the bar and buy us cherry Coke's and Shirley Temples.  And not the pre-made stuff. The bartender would make them 'special' with a cherry on top, in glass glasses, and we would sit there, slurping out of the teeniest straws.  Then we'd run back down to the pool and play Marco Polo for hours on end while Grandpa and the parents played a few rounds.

Another good one is visiting him at the bank (where he worked). The bank in my grandparents home town is a typical small-town bank.  It's kinda small, located in an old stone building, and the customers and/or employees didn't mind 10 kids running in and out all day looking for candy.  Grandpa's office was in the back and he was always on his trusty typewriter. Always.  He even used the typewriter for post-it notes. It was so cute.  He'd always stop what he was doing and take us to the kitchen and feed us super sugary cokes and whatever other sugary snack he could find.  Then send us sprinting down the alley back to our parents, literally bouncing off the walls.

Grandpa always had a smile on his face. A big ol' smile that made it so easy to smile back.

My mom talks about what it was like to grow up with him as a father and it's, really, quite different than what I remember him being like as a grandfather.  Which, I suppose, is normal. Grandparents are always treating their grandchildren differently than what they treated their children. Grandpa Jim and Grandma Margie had 6 kids.  SIX! Five girls and one boy....poor Uncle Bill. Mom would tell me that Grandpa worked his butt off for most of their youth. Always working, hardly ever home, or coming home late.  Clients coming to the home, so he was working even though he was at home.  All to provide a good life for his kids. Hugs came from Grandma, and 'I love you's' were rare, but they never felt that that was anything but normal. Grandma stayed home and ran the house and the kids. Took them all to the pool, or clothes shopping, or grocery shopping. Could you imagine....6 kids and trying to buy bananas and milk with them hanging all over you?!?!

I remember Grandpa was always around when we visited.  Always giving us a big hug or telling us he loved us.  He was always just so happy and proud to have the family he did.  (But he would never take full credit for such a spectacular family, he always said it was because of Grandma.)
Grandpa & Me climbing the stairs.
Check out that sweet shag carpet!
Our family is one unique bunch of nutcases.  Mostly, if not wholey, because of Grandpa and Grandma. They instilled excellent values and good morals into all of us throughout our entire lives. But they also loved to have a good get-together. And would make any excuse to do so.  Most of the time it was at football tailgates or the annual family Christmas party.  Sometimes there was a 4th of July celebration or half of us would just be up to their house at random times and the beer (or Crown Royal) would flowwwww.  It didn't matter.  Lord, Grandpa loved a good party.  I remember bringing Ryan up to a family Christmas for the first time and I was so nervous for him to meet ALL my family.  We're loud, we talk all at the same time (but have a crazy way of listening to everything at the same time too), we shift gears on subjects like a Nascar driver shifts gears on a race track and we have a really good time, which sometimes frightens 'normal' people.  Everything went smoothly, of course. Ryan fit right in; I don't know what I was so worried about.  I know Grandpa really liked Ryan a lot, from the first moment he met him.  He was always asking where he was (if he wasn't at a family function) and how he was doing.  And I think that with Ryan not having any living Grandfathers that he always thought of Grandpa as 'his' too.

I don't know if it was all the get-togethers, or the way we were raised, or just....because, that we are all so close.  I definitely think most of it has to do with Grandpa and Grandma.  There are a lot of my cousins I consider more brothers and sisters than 'cousins'. And a lot of my aunts and uncles that could be my 'parents'. I don't know if I know of another family that is as close as ours. I mean, I'm sure they're out there, but I just feel that ours is 'special'. Very special.

Grandpa was big on education. He sent all his kids to college. Most of them going to Kansas State University. I'm not sure if the 'obsession' started with his first child going there, or he was an avid fan before that.  But I'll tell you, he was the biggest, baddest, longest KSU fan out there.  He went to every football game, and darn near every basketball game. He's had season tickets for football for, I think, 50 years. Or close to it. He was KSU Fan Of The Year in 2007. He got to go down to the football field and get introduced on the jumbo-tron during the game.  I think that was one proud moment for him.
Grandpa & Me at a KSU Football Game.
Going to the football games was another huge memory for me. Because we always tailgated before the game at Grandpa Jim's spot.  Really, it was my Uncle Bill, Aunt Terry, and cousin Kelly that put the tailgate on, and they also brought Grandpa to the games. Every time I walked up, he had his cup of beer in his hand and was walking around shaking the other hand with everyone that walked by the tailgate.  He was always ready for a big hug from his Granddaughter.  We would chat about my college life and what I was doing, and he would talk about golfing and what he was doing at home.  Then about 6 other cousins would walk up and the exact same 'scene' would repeat for each of them.

I met so many people at those tailgates that had known my Grandpa for years. You could just see the admiration and respect on their face when they talked to him. That's the way it was with him; if you showed him respect, he showed you respect right back.  And it was hard not to admire him.  He was so smart, and funny, and just plain likable. He was friends with everyone.
Last time I saw Grandpa. April 2011
This is the third major loss for my family, on that side.  And the first of my grandparents to go, on that side too.  We don't particularly deal with death very well; probably because we are so close and to lose one of us is like ripping our heart out. But I will tell you that Grandpa requested a party.  He wanted us to celebrate his life.  And by God, that's what we will do!
Grandpa James Sheik
Born June 26, 1919
Died July 2, 2011

*Note: I want to write an extra piece to send out a HUGE thank you to my Aunts Jeannie and Linda.  They have taken extremely good care of my grandparents for a number of years and without them I am positive Grandpa would not have made it as long as he did.  They had a very rough time with it and I just want them to know that the entire family, and especially myself, is so grateful for all they have done.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your Grandpa! He sounded like a wonderful man! What great memories you have of him and this was a beautiful tribute! It sounds like you have an amazing family.

  2. Wow, what a beautiful tribute to what sounds like a wonderful man! You and your family are so blessed to have known him, and I pray comfort over your family as you deal with this loss (and celebrate all the time you had with him).

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss - it's never easy. But thank you for sharing us a glimpse of him. He sounded like an amazing man and an awesome grandpa. :)

  4. What an amazing tribute to an amazing man.. I see you in the words you've written about him - and that is the most beautiful tribute you can give to this wonderful man...

    You and your family are in my heart, my thoughts and in my prayers....

  5. I'm so sorry for your great loss Laura....

    But you painted the perfect picture of a wonderful man. Your Grandpa!

    My family was a lot like yours too. My Grandpa (Daddy Ray) was really wonderful, but it was my Grandma (Mama Myrt) that truly held our family together. When she passed, the life of the family was has never been the same without her. My Daddy Ray died of a broken heart less than a year later. They were married for about 75 years.

    But isn't it great to have had that kind of family bond?

  6. Hugs to you. SOrry to hear about your loss, you did a great write up I loved reading this post. He was just as lucky to have you in his life as it sounds like you were to have him.

  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute. You're so lucky to have spent so much time and have so many great memories with your grandparents.

  8. this was very well written and I actually read the entire thing. The pics of your grandpa younger remind me so much of my grandpa. He would be in his late 90's by now. All of my grandparents are gone now, grandpa hung on the longest and died a few years ago. He was the fun, silly, grandpa that would always take the kids fishing or golfing, or give them candy...much like yours.

    Beautifully written my fellow Kansan.

  9. Laura, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your entire family sounds wonderful and full of supportive caring folks. Please know my thoughts are with you and your family during this tough emotional time.

  10. I am sorry to hear about your loss. Your grandpa sounds like an amazing man!
    I still have both sets of grandparents, and it scares me to high heavens that their day's are counting down, I am so not prepared for it at all.

  11. Aww...I totally would have hearted Grandpa Jim! I'm so sorry for your loss. But I'm also happy you had such a wonderful grandpa and can hold on to such great memories. Hugs!

  12. What a special man, and a special family...

  13. sounds like you had a wonderful grandfather! so sorry for your loss. my grandfather has been gone three years now, and I still miss him every single day.

  14. My addition:

    July 2, 2011 is the day the Earth lost a legend of a man and Heaven gained the mightiest of Angels. I love you Grandpa.

  15. So sorry, Laura Belle. It sounds like you lost a living legend.

    Your grandfather would be so proud of your amazing tribute. :)


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