Monday, March 8, 2010

Memoir Monday! (Again stolen from Busted Kate - I do this a lot apparently!)

So Kate stole it from Travis, but I thought it was a great idea, so I stole it from Kate as well!
Busted Kate's blog was about her favorite smell and that made me think of one of mine...yes, I have many, but one is far and wide the best and I am sure it will surprise the heck out of you - but hopefully not scare you.  Gasoline...well, really, gasoline burning when an engine is running preferably from a tractor (or as I learned the other day, a quad).  I know weird right?  Don't worry, I'm not sitting in my garage huffing on my hubby's quad pipe...although if I was, that could explain this whole infertility thing.  But nope, not doing that.  The reason that this smell resonates so much with me is because of my beloved Grandpa Einck who passed in October 2007.  

A little back story here, I am an only child.  And every summer from about the time I was 6 or 7, my parents would fly me back to Iowa to be with my grandparents for about 3-4 weeks (more as I got older) and my cousins who came in from California.  It gave our parents a break and a chance for us to have a break too, and have constant playmates.  Since my grandparents lived in Iowa, it gave them a great chance to be with the grand kids - all of us girls at that point, and spoil us rotten!  Now, Grandma and Grandpa lived on a large expanse of land with lots and lots and lots of grass and a garden.  So we learned lots of stuff when we were to catch fireflies in jars at night, how to pull the weeds out of the garden - and the carrots when they were ready, how to have "sisters" for sometimes a month on end, and how to drive Grandpa's tractor.  Every week, Grandpa had to mow the lawn and it took him a good part of the day because Grandpa was a perfectionist and adored his John Deere and caring for his acreage.  So every week, the tractor fired up and with it...say it with me...the smell of burning gasoline.  To this day, I get even a minor whiff and I am transported back to the farm with my beloved Grandfather.  Now, I am the oldest grandchild so I got to learn how to drive the tractor first...first sitting in his lap, then by myself.  It was a joy I will never forget.

How do I explain my Grandfather?  I don't recall ever seeing him angry.  He was very chill and he made the best faces - the best!  He was a character.  And boy did we girls have him wrapped around our little fingers.  He would let us tie ribbons in his comb-over.  He would swing us around, until we got too big.  He was smitten with his granddaughters...and eventually his son had two boys and he was in heaven once again.  And somehow, when they drove to Arizona from Iowa, they could always tell us exactly when they would arrive at the house...and it always happened to be right around the time I got home from school so I could rush into their arms and hear his wonderful laugh.

But eventually, I got too old to go to Iowa every summer (well, I actually got pneumonia the summer after my 6th grade year) and then I was kind of scared to go back to Iowa.  And then I started college (no, not after 6th grade...about 4 years later) and those visits with Grandma and Grandpa became fewer and more far between.  And then Grandpa got sick, so they didn't come to Arizona anymore for Christmas.  And then, eventually we lost him at 91!  Yes, longevity seems to be in my genes!  And even when we went back for the funeral, somehow, in the middle of October there were mums everywhere...they were his favorite.  And I am pretty sure somehow, that tractor got fired up at least once.  

The day before we all left (somehow, everyone made it to Iowa for his day) and that hadn't happened for a long time...a really long time.  But we were all there, all 6 grandkids, 3 kids and spouses too.  We had a lot of fun catching up with each other and remembering what our cousins were like.  Anyway, the day before we all left, Grandma was going through some of his things and giving them to whoever wanted them and she popped in a video tape that she didn't know what it was, and the first sound we heard was his voice.  Loud.  Crisp.  Clear.  I think no one breathed for at least 5 minutes...and there he was, in all his glory on the screen.  Showing us his workshop in the basement and things he had made...besides a gardener, he was also a carpenter - and a clock maker.  And we all watched in awe, because that was the last thing we expected to see that day.  And when it was all over, we all looked at each other and I think we laughed.  Because that is what he did best...he loved to laugh.

So that is why I love the smell of burning gasoline from a tractor (or most recently realized, a quad).  It reminds me of this great man.  
This picture was taken one of those summers and this is a classic Grandpa Einck face.  I am behind him on the right (apparently not amused, or maybe not aware of what was happening), next to me is my cousin Gail (next oldest), then Grandma Einck.  In front next to Grandpa is my cousin Holly, Gail's little sister.  These were fun times.

This is another classic Grandpa picture...he loved him some Cornflakes.  Always had the John Deere hat on (he worked there for 30 years I think!) and the glasses case, and there's that smile and laugh.  
The morning of Grandpa's funeral, I wrote the poem below and my Dad read it at the reception.  Every single family member asked for a copy, and said it really epitomized him.  So I share it with you dear Bleaders now.

Grandpa Einck
by Niki Rowe, October 7, 2007

How do you describe the man
Who taught you to walk, ride a bike, and cough on command?
The man who created anything you desired
Into the most treasured wooden master-piece?
And how do you describe the man who
Always stole your dessert and "swore" that you had already eaten it?
That was Grandpa Einck.
He made you feel like you were the only person in the world,
Even though there could have been a circus going on around you.
But you respected him like he was the President.
He knew everything!
But even if he didn't, he "fibbed" and made you think he did.
His eyes always sparkled and danced - always!
He loved children...
His children, his grandchildren, and anybody's children.
His face lit up like the morning sky
When they were near.
He loved to tease them,
But mostly he loved to teach them.
He gave the best hugs and he gave them often - 
Great, big, bear hugs!
His family always came first and
He made sure he saw all of them every year.
We looked forward to seeing him every year,
And missed it greatly when we didn't get to.
He loved his country and his heritage,
And he put his flag up with grandeur everyday so
Everone knew how proud he was to be a part of it.
He was the greatest man.
When my husband met him for the first time,
They seemed like one in the same.
I couldn't have asked for better.
Even in illness, he knew and loved Grandma.
The last time I saw him,
I snuck up behind him (and he didn't remember me).
I gave him a kiss on the cheeck, and he looked at me and said,"
"Well, thank you!" with that smirk he had.
Grandma walked up behind me and I asked
Him who she was.
He said, "That's the boss, my wife."
And then he looked at her like he had all his life,
Like he couldn't live without her.
And his eyes had that gleam about them.
But now he's on the express-train to heaven,
To tend to God's garden,
His family on Earth.

I know he is watching over me in our infertility struggle, and doing whatever he can to help.  I smile every morning when I hear the train whistle...yet another thing he adored...trains.  Night all...and Grandpa.

Oh - one more thing, for those of you who visit and read my blog (I love you even though you don't identify yourselves!), but if you would like this emailed to you whenever I post, just shoot me an email at and I will add you to that list!  Thanks for reading.


  1. Great post, wonderful story! I loved it. You rock, chickie. And I loved that first picture. Yay for grandpas!

  2. My Mom said this brought her to tears. He was her Dad. I was crying by the end too. He is my angel now!

  3. From my cousin Gail:

    Thanks so much for sharing your words about Grandpa. It's so nice to have someone put into words what he meant to all of us. I had a good cry (happy tears!) and really enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if you'd be comfortable letting me link to your blog on FB or if you would be okay with me posting it w/o the blog, but I was hoping to share your words with many of my friends who never got to meet Grandpa, but who have heard countless stories about what an amazing man he was.

    I totally understand if you're not comfortable with either option, I know it's very personal. Thank you so much for writing what I've been thinking about for so many years! It means a lot to my mom, my sister and me!


  4. From my Aunt Daisy, my Mom's sister:

    This just made me cry and cry. What a wonderful tribute! What a wonderful dad and grandpa.

    Thank you, Niki, for this. I miss him.

  5. From one of my best girls, Katie:

    Loved it...I think that was my most favorite post yet.

  6. I totally meant to comment on here too. Thanks for posting my comments to your blog as well.

    For those of you who didn't have the honor of meeting my Grandpa you should know that he was and is my hero. My summers with Niki and my grandparents (and eventually my younger sister) were the best times of my life. I miss those days so much. It's hard to look back sometimes and know that my Grandpa Einck is gone, but he left a lasting impression on my heart and my being that made a better person. I learned how to be compassionate, caring, patient, giving, honest, and especially how to distract little kids for hours on end. I hope that someday I can be to others just half of what my Grandpa was to me. I am so incredibly grateful that I still have my Grandma Einck who was and continues to be as important to me as my Grandpa was.

    Thank you Niki for writing this out. I miss those summers with you so much. Thank you for teaching me so many amazing things and for giving me some of my favorite movies. I've watched The Cutting Edge 50 million times because we rented that in Denver, IA!


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