It’s been said that writing is therapeutic, so here goes! Roger’s Dad is 95 and has taken a turn for the worse. We are en route to Grand Junction now to see him, and it sure stirs up memories. Memories I’d like to capture for me to keep and also to share with others.
I have to take you back to the beginning . When I met Quinton I had been dating Roger for a few months. Roger had never been serious about anyone and I don’t think he’d ever brought anyone home. So, it was a big deal that I’m going to “meet the parent”.
The plan was to stay at Quinton’s house (yes, that was awkward). When we arrived, he had made dinner and made everything “southern”. He knew I was from the south, so had taken the time to make ham, green beans and mashed potatoes. The challenge was, he served it all with tomato juice and I HATE tomato juice. BUT, my Mom taught me to eat what’s in front of you, so I drank the juice. I was so impressed that he took the time to make me southern stuff, but I still remember the tomato juice!
The next day we went for a day trip to the Colorado National Monument. I was in awe of the place and remember being very uncomfortable being such a tourist in front of this man that had grown up in this area. You see, he was not a warm person with me back then. It was work for both of us. After our day at the monument, sitting around that evening, I said “I got sunburned on my ears”! Quinton said, “well if you didn’t have a haircut like a man that wouldn’t happen”. Uh oh…. We went on to have a great visit, but I was certainly learning first hand that he was old fashioned. And heck, I’d been raised as a proper southern girl, I could manage this!
Roger and I continued dating and eventually got engaged. I had some interactions with Quinton, but it was limited given he lived 4 hours away. The entire family was always very welcoming to me and Quinton was always cordial and kind. We mostly saw each other at Pat and Gary’s house in Gypsum, CO (Roger’s Sister and Brother-in-Law).
When we married, Quinton was Roger’s best man. He was so proud of us and so happy to be involved. We had the first dance and I remember being very embarrassed :).
When Laura was born, he came to visit and he and I got into a very emotional discussion. He expressed to me that I could not go back to work that it was my job to stay home and raise my child. He went on to tell me that she’d never be emotionally adjusted if I didn’t stay home. Uh oh… here we go again. I remember expressing my opinion and then crying to Roger. Remember, I was 24 years old and definitely still maturing and learning how to navigate this married and child world! More crying…. More crying… more crying….
Eventually, Quinton became “Dad” and he and I became very close. When Laura was 5 he came to visit us in Pennsylvania. He asked me if we could go to lunch together, just he and I alone. Well sure, because by now, we were tight and I better understood his old-fashioned views. Well, at lunch he told me he was sorry. He was sorry for being too hard on me when Laura was a baby and it was clear to him that she was a well-adjusted, great young girl and he realized this was in huge part due to me as her Mom. Well, needless to say, now we were really close!
We went on to have a lot of family time and many times with he and I alone going for a drive or going for errands. We were just Tonya and Dad now.
Fast forward, Roger and I called to tell him we were going to leave our corporate jobs in Allentown and move back to Colorado and this time we would live in his home town of Grand Junction. He really didn’t believe us and it took many conversations to get him to believe it was true! We came to Grand Junction to look for a house to purchase and Dad said we needed to have a discussion. Uh oh….
He went on to ask us if we were indeed financially stable enough to do this. Also, what if we got divorced, how would the money work? Uh oh….. We explained that we would be fine and we weren’t planning to divorce. He then switched to, what if one of you dies. He clearly had spent a lot of time worrying about this stuff. So, we sat down at dinner and went over the entire plan with him. Once he had more details, he was comfortable and from then on, the questions were about where we’d live! He just needed to understand.
You see, he’s a “need to understand” kind of guy. He needs to understand how cell phones work and consistently opens his up to check it out. And yes, it breaks them. He needs to know how the computer works, so he would regularly tear it apart and reassemble it. He is always fascinated with batteries and I’ve recently learned this goes way back to childhood!
When I started doing genealogy, I found a book that had stories of Dad when he was a child. They lived on a farm in Collbran, CO up on Grand Mesa. One of the stories detailed how he hooked up a battery to a piece of sheet metal and then put the chickens on it to “watch them dance”…. Yep, he was apparently mischievous too!
Speaking of Collbran. When Roger and I moved to Grand Junction, we first lived in the Redlands area. We eventually sold that house and moved to Palisade. Dad LOVED to come to Palisade while we were remodeling. He would help measure, cut, lay tile, whatever needed to be done! One of the first days we were there an older lady and a younger lady came to the front door with cookies. I greeted them and my sister (in-law, but she’s my sister), came to the door and we were visiting with them. Turns out, the older lady was our neighbor across the street.
In visiting, I asked her where she was from originally and she said Collbran! I said, my father-in-law is from Collbran! I called for Dad to come to the door and I remember specifically calling him “Dad” and not “Quinton”. When he came to the door, the lady said, “Quinton do you remember me”? He said, “no, do I know you”? She said, “I’m Helen Chapman”. He said, “well Helen how have you been? I didn’t recognize you, your hair used to be brown”! She said, “well so did yours”.
It turns out, Helen’s parents and Quinton’s parents were BEST FRIENDS and they grew up playing together! OMG! This eventually led to us having a reunion of sorts with the people from the high school. We had 8 or so people and they had a blast!
Another very fond memory is from when Dad lived out of his camper and traveled the country. I remember thinking “who does that”. And how does that work? When Roger and I decided to go full time I think he secretly loved it because he remembered his adventures. It was bittersweet though because we wouldn’t live in his hometown any more :(.
As we prepare ourselves for Dad’s final days, I want to remember the stubborn/sweet, cantankerous/caring, proud/passionate, tough/talkative person that helped raise the man I love more than life itself. And, share these stories so you can get to know him too!