My grandfather passed last night. It was as good as it could have been, he was ready and we were all ready for him to go. The family was there with him, and I got to say goodbye.
I helped haul dear Lady–his ancient Chesapeake Bay Retriever–up the garden path and into the bedroom so he could touch her and she could be with him for a bit. He was gone mentally at that point but I hope he knew it was her. Even when his mind started to go, he still was always asking “Where’s Lady?”, and demanding and ordering everyone around, “Let Lady out!” He loved his dogs.
At Los Rios Rancho, sorting apples with Blue. 1980s.
My grandfather was undoubtedly the host of the DNA many of us acquired featuring the dog and horse bug. He grew up riding around the high deserts of Southern California, including on my great grandmother’s Yucca Loma guest ranch. During WWI she hosted many high-falutin’ LA types on her ranch, including some movie stars of the day. Family lore has it (or at least Pop told me, which means it was taken with a grain of salt) that as a teenager, he was driving Clark Gable around hunting rabbits from a car. They saw a rabbit and Pop slammed on the brakes, whereupon Clark Gable flew forward and knocked his teeth out on the dash. Whether or not that’s entirely true I have no idea, but its a good story regardless.
From the time I was born, and well, well before there was always a big lumbering hunting dog somewhere within spitting distance my grandfather. He had “gun dogs”. He loved them to death but wasnt much of a dog trainer. He was exceedingly nice to everyone, including his dogs, and never could see why my grandmother would get so infuriated by a Labrador tail clearing the coffee table or knocking over a small child. If you grew up in our family you were relatively dog savvy whether you cared to be or not.
He loaned me his old, handmade saddle when I wrangled dudes out in Wyoming after college for 3 years. Being a hunt seat bumpkin up until that point, I didnt know how nice of a rig it was until all the real cowboys started trying to buy it off of me. (No way you thieving bastards!!!) I still have a gorgeous pair of braided roping reins I unearthed from one of his stashes. I need to go dust those off and clean them up.
He was always dressed, as long as he could get out of bed—which was really up until only a few weeks ago. Slacks, button down, bolo tie, cowboy boots. And if going out somewhere, a hat. And always ready to sneak us a $20 for gas money or just because. He was generous to a fault, and we all loved him for it.
Thanks Pop. We love you, will miss you, and are happy you are in a better place. Nanie will be glad to see you.