In loving memory of Grandpa (08/2007) and Granny (07/2009)

It would be hard to put into words what my grandparents meant to me throughout my life. I grieve that I will never be able to laugh and share with them again. And, I mourn the loss my family will feel, especially my mother. But, I am glad they have finally 'passed on' as their life quality had diminshed so much. It was so hard for my grandfather to have to rely upon others for all of his needs, especially when he has always valued his role as 'the helper' in the family. But, like I told him, "Grandpa, you are still teaching your grandson, even in your misery. You are teaching me about quality of life, about dignity, and about dying and acceptance. Know that your suffering has a purpose." For those who take the time to look at his document, I would like to share some pics (click here), a few memories, and at the end, a poem. Thank you for sharing a part of my grandparents with me.

When I was teaching at OK ST UN, I invited my grandparents to come over and attend my class. During the lecture, I was talking about how on a particular island, young adults will have sex three times a day on average, while on a neighboring island they have sex once a month at most. I asked the class, "Why is it that the islands are so different?" My grandfather raises his hand to answer the question. So, I tentatively called on him. He responds, "Well, it seems to me like those men on the one island are so worn out from swimming back from the other island, that they can't have sex for a whole month." Yep, that is my grandfather; easy solution for a complex cultural phenomenon. :)

In another class my grandparents visited, I asked how it is that men find women to marry. Grandpa raised his hand, and then offered, "Well, I think boys go out a drinking, and who-so-ever they wake up with the next morning, well now, it seems they are just stuck with that one for life." If only mate selection were that easy. I did not ask him if that his how he and granny ended up together.

In the same class, I told my students about a study where college guys (if given the opportunity) were more likely to go have casual sex with a girl who approached them than go on a date with the girl. My grandmother raised her hand, so I said "Granny, you have a thought about this?" And her answer was "I just think those boys don't want to be seen in public with THAT kind of girl."

Speaking of my grandmother, I would like to tell you about a few of my many many memories. First, when I stayed the night, she would lovingly make a pallet of blankets and pillows on the floor by her bed - I still think about that when I have to sleep on the floor somewhere. She owned a beauty salon, and I would go there and sit under the big hair dryers. She made the best fried potatoes and gravy ever (my friend David Claunch will attest to this as he would come over at lunch break from school and practically lick the plate and bowls clean). She made the best stuffing at thanksgiving (yum), and her mud pie was soooooo delicious. And finally, she got me my first job in 6th grade helping her best friend, Ruth, at the gas station (stacking cans).

When I was young, and grandpa was driving me somewhere, we would agree that we would not stop until we got to our destination. So, when we approached a red light, we would slow down to a creeping crawl, slow, slower, sloooooowwwww, until the light finally turned green, and we would floor it. There were a few times when I think we both wondered if we were going to have to enter the intersection or lose the game. By the way, this is NOT a game I would play in Los Angeles.

My very best memory in my life involves my grandfather's observation of me at my university graduation. He arrived in Alva, OK (with my grandmother of course), and each place they went, people asked if they were here for the graduation (Alva has less than 10,000 people, so it is assumed that a dressed up stranger on that day is there for graduation). Anyway, he responds "I am here to see my grandson, Scott Plunkett, graduate college." Each person he tells this to responds, "Oh, I know Scott." And then they recounted how they knew me or some positive attribute (bless their hearts). At the ceremony, the people sitting next to him also knew me. And then, when I walked across the stage, I got the loudest cheer of the day (not that I am bragging - okay, maybe a bit). After the ceremony ended, grandpa recounted this experience to me, and he said he was "So proud that such a shy, quiet, little boy could grow up to graduate college and be so popular." I don't know that I was THAT popular, but my heart (and head) swelled hearing him say that.

The Apple Tree

Like an old apple tree
Steadfastly providing nourishment,
With a legacy of sacrifice
and hungers gratified.
This is them, always giving.

Like the photo album
incessantly sparking memories,
with a legacy of stories
and times gone by.
This is them, always remembering.

Like the small child
unconditionally loving others,
with a legacy of kindness
and innocence untainted.
This is them, always loving.

Like the Mother Earth
lovingly procreating children,
with a legacy of life
and ancestry lives on.
This is them, always living.

Like the resplendent saints
always performing kind deeds,
with a legacy of generosity
and dedication to service.
This is them, my grandparents.