Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Grandchild's View ... By Nicole Harrison

My cousin Nicole delivered Grandpa's Eulogy for his funeral, and did an awesome job. I wanted to share it here for everyone.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Nicole Harrison and I am blessed to be one of Harvey & Myla’s 16 grandchildren.  On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you for being here today to honor the life of my Grandpa Harvey.  Grandpa lived a full life and there are many stories and perspectives to tell.  I’m here this morning to give you a Grandchild’s view.
It would be impossible to describe Grandpa in one word.  To us grandchildren, he was a passionate, respectful, humble, determined, generous, and helpful man.  He was also a story-teller, hard worker, cookie taster, lefse-flipper, and had a great sense of humor. And his smile could light up a room.
The one descriptor that cannot go unsaid, though, is Grandpa was a farmer. To Grandpa, farming was more than a means to pay the bills; it was a way of life.
Farming is hard work and long days, and Grandpa always made sure he did whatever needed to be done.  He had a strong work ethic and determination that garnered respect and made him the “go to” man for many farmers in the area.  He even had a pair of pliers that he would carry around on his hip, always ready and willing to help.
Grandpa’s love of farming reflected his love for family.  Farming was how he provided for his family, and every early morning and late evening was an expression of that love. 
But no matter how busy he was, he always had time for us grandkids. He was always patient with us, and would gladly indulge our curiosity and take us with him as he went around to the fields, never once giving us the impression that we were in his way.  I remember summers in South Dakota, riding along in the combine or happily assisting Grandpa with his daily chores (although I do not recall ever having to pick rock in the fields).  He cheered us on at football, basketball, and volleyball games.  He attended our significant life events, such as baptisms, confirmations, graduations, and weddings. He also shared his hobbies with us, such as assembling puzzles and playing ping pong. Some of my fondest memories of Grandpa are the many Thanksgivings we shared together at Pine Lake Camp in Wisconsin.  I remember Grandpa sitting at a table, working on puzzles with my brother and cousins. He would often sit by the fireplace with a smile on his face, watching the family he and Grandma created.  Grandpa loved to play and watch family ping pong games, and he was a good sport participating in photo scavenger hunts and playing fierce competitive games of “blow pong” (a Kneeland family invention).
Grandma made sure that Grandpa always knew what was going on in our lives and Grandpa would find a way to let us know how proud he was of us.  But it was the smile on his face when surrounded by family that made me realize just how much he cared about his family and how much he loved each one of us.
Grandpa’s kindness and generosity extended beyond family and friends. He was respectful to everyone he met, and would always do the right thing without hesitation. I have heard countless stories of the many strangers who were stranded in storms who Grandpa and Grandma welcomed into their home.  You may have heard the story where Grandpa woke up to the sound of a car in the driveway. He got up and went outside to investigate, and found a car that was stuck in the snow. In no time at all, Grandpa was on a tractor, pulling it out and sending the driver on his way.  The next morning, he found tracks leading to the gas tank, and a broken lock, and then realized that the man he had pulled out of the snow had been in their yard “borrowing” gas.  I wonder if that man realized after Grandpa towed him out that he would have given him the gas if he’d just asked. Yet, even after knowing what had happened, it wouldn’t stop Grandpa from doing the same thing again in the future.  He was just that type of man.
Grandpa was kind. And gentle. And patient.  I experienced this first-hand one summer when I spent a month in South Dakota when I was about 14 years old.  Grandpa and I had gone into town for lunch one day and when we were preparing to head back to the house, he handed me the keys and told me to drive home.  For those of you who grew up on a farm, this may not sound like a big deal.  But to a city girl like me, who had never been behind the wheel, I was shocked. And scared. And excited. Grandpa calmly instructed me on the basic driving mechanics and then had me put the key in the ignition.  I remember nervously turning it and hearing the engine start up.  I half expected Grandpa to say he was just kidding and let me slide over to the passenger seat, but he just gave me a reassuring nod and we were on our way.  I think I got the speedometer up to only 30 mph on the highway, but I remember Grandpa sitting next to me with a smile on his face that made it seem like he was enjoying a leisurely scenic drive, instead of being driven by a nervous teenager who was afraid to accelerate.  I could sense his confidence in me without him saying a word.  I loved that about him.  Looking back, I now see that one of the seeds Grandpa planted in me was quiet contentment, and I am proud to have that in common with him. 
Grandpa was a farmer in all aspects of his life, and he planted seeds in everyone he encountered. In those of us who are his grandchildren, I see many of Grandpa’s attributes displayed within each one of us, including his love of farming in Jens; his strength in Tony; his sense of humor in Kevin; his helpfulness in Jacob; his gentle nature in Kara; his story-telling in Adam; his kindness in Sara; his strong work ethic in Alex; his passion in Abby; his love of family in Nicolette; his patience in Shannon; his determination in Casey; and his respect for others in Craig. As part of his family, those seeds will also grow in Demitra and Lucas, his two youngest grandchildren.  The seeds Grandpa has planted in us as his legacy will continue to live on and grow through each of us in the families we create.
Grandpa will be missed dearly, but never forgotten.  He was a great man, a “gentleman’s gentleman”. Anyone who was around Grandpa knew of his generosity, work ethic, humility, and selflessness. Albert Einstein once said, “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation.  For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.” So we’re here today to celebrate Grandpa’s life and continue his legacy.
Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Tribute!
~Carol Purga


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