November 18th 2009, would have marked my grandfather's 91st birthday. Some of my best childhood memories are when I would spend weekends at Papa and Gonga's home. Papa was the name we called my grandfather and Gonga was the name we called my grandmother (Gonga came about when my cousin and I tried to say Grandma-somehow it came out as Gonga and it stuck) . They were my dad's parents. Sadly, Papa passed away on October 4, 1997 from Lung Cancer.
I am sure he was not always the perfect husband nor the perfect father, but I do know he was ALWAYS the perfect grandpa! He loved all of us grandkids more than life itself it seemed. I hope to carry on his grandparenting legacy of unconditional love and desire for quality time with my own grandchildren someday.
In honor of his birthday I wanted to tell you a few of my favorite memories or facts about my Papa, Gordon Silvy Tinsley.
1. He worked at US Pipe for 45 years. On an occasional Saturday, when he had to work or check on something, if my cousin and I were spending the weekend, he would take us with him. We loved going with him. He would always make it an fun adventure. US Pipe was on a very large piece of land and there were lots of empty space and wild critters around. He would drive around looking for things to point out. Our favorite was when he pointed to the Jack Rabbits as they would run from den to den as we drove around.
2. He was a hard worker, honest and fair in all areas of his life.
3. He was always friendly to everyone.
4. He loved when my cousins and I would race to greet him at as he got home from work. No matter how much stress was in his day, when he saw us, he left it all behind.
5. Whenever we spent the night we never brought PJ's because we ALWAYS slept in one of Papa's white tee shirts.
6. He always slept with the window open (he loved to hear the sound of the rain splatter against the aluminum patio cover and feel the coolness of the night).
7. He was always very affectionate. Hugs and kisses were freely given for all hello's and goodbye's
8. He loved when my cousin Stacey and I would comb his hair (the few he had) and shave him (with his electric razor).
9. He always took time to ask how you were doing.
10.He affectionately called each grandchild "stinker" or "Knucklehead" from time to time.
11. He loved to eat (and Gonga was a good cook),
12. He loved sweets and always had a drawer full of cookies and junk food "hidden" in the kitchen (every grandchild knew exactly where this drawer was).
13. He was generous. Christmas was one of his favorite holidays. He always made sure my grandmother bought LOTS of gifts for us to unwrap under the Christmas tree. He loved to see us unwrap each and every gift.
14. He liked to camp, fish, and garden.
15. He served in the US Navy.
16. He always made me feel safe and important.
17. He would laugh at all the right times even if what you said was not all that funny.
18. He loved to watch (and read) Old Westerns.
19. Family was important to him.
20. Before his death in 1997 he accepted Christ in his heart. I look forward to someday seeing him in Heaven, and if I know Papa, he is probably sitting down on his favorite heavenly couch (my grandmother is sitting on the other side of the couch and my dad is sitting on the love seat diagonally across) surrounded by lots of children and listening to them tell stories, laughing at their jokes, and letting them comb his hair. He probably has a stash of cookies in a drawer somewhere and a smile on his face as he looks down and sees his daughter, all his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and even his great great grandson born this summer! We love you and miss you Papa!
*the photos: me and Papa 12/68, Papa approx 95/96, my cousin Stacey, Papa, me 08/68*