Why I have a Cowboy Hat

While I grew up in a very small Iowa town, I am a city girl through and through. Yet, this city girl is officially the owner of a lovely Stetson Cowboy Hat!  Over the weekend, I traveled back home for the funeral of my Grandpa Everett–the original owner of the hat. It was grandpa’s wish that his grandchildren not only be his pall bearers, but that we each get one of his hats. Thus, Dr. Brooke now owns a Stetson!

Oh, how I wish you all could have known my grandpa! Since that is not possible, I would like to share with you a bit of what I shared at the funeral on Monday.

I am the oldest of 12 grandchildren.  This afforded me more time with grandpa.  While the lessons I have learned from grandpa are numerous, there are three you must know.

Find Humor in All that Life Brings You

When I was growing up, I was a little afraid of grandpa. He was a big guy who worked hard.  One of my strongest and earliest memories of grandpa was that he would always take a nap after lunch. He would lay down on the floor of the hallway just off the kitchen. And he would SNORE! We never dared to tiptoe past him for fear of waking him too soon!

I think the main reason I was “afraid” of grandpa was that I did not understand his sense of humor. He enjoyed laughing, and oh he liked to tease! In fact, he would tease my sister and I, saying that we got our good grades because our dad was on the school board!

Grandpa continued to find the humor in all situations, even as he battled leukemia, spending days in and out of the hospital.

Think Outside of the Cabinet

My grandpa was always finding ways to repurpose things. My mom and her siblings have memories of trips to the dump to scour for items that could be given a second life.  It wasn’t til grandpa retired that his creative gifts were truly seen.

Grandpa discovered a wonderous place called Wood Harbor.  Wood Harbor is a door and cabinet factory in northern Iowa, not far from his home in Minnesota.  The best part, grandpa discovered, was the back room where all the “mistakes” were kept.  Doors that had too many knots. Cabinets stained the wrong color.  He didn’t mind those things, because he would use them to make something new. Grandpa shopped there so often, my aunt and uncle asked the store if he could buy a gift certificate.  This request was recieved with strange looks until they were told who the gift was for!

Grandpa would take these discarded items and turn them into Beauty-ful (His words) built-ins, murphy beds, headboards, quilt racks, and more.  All told, grandpa created Beauty-ful things out of more than 200 doors!

You might be a project

My uncles have joked that if you were a friend of grandpa’s, you might just be one of his “projects.”  I know that I was in fact one of grandpa’s projects.  At what was one of the lowest points in my life, grandpa and grandma took in me and my daughter Harley (who was just 4 1/2 months at the time). They not only gave us a roof over our head and food to eat, they supported us as I got back on my feet.  While living with your grandparents is not at the top of any adult’s wish list, it was such a sweet time. Harley was able to develop a strong bond with her Great-grandparents, and I was able to see a new side of my grandparents as an adult.

We all may be someone’s project at some point in our lives, but the best part about it is that we are able to learn from it. One day, you may find a project of your own!