My Grandpa Bartel passed away on Saturday, November 15. These are a few of many memories and pictures I hold dear.
Grandpa holding Luke, his first great grandchild, less than a day old. I know some men who don't seem interested in or comfortable with small children and especially infants but not Grandpa. There are so many great memories I have from my own childhood and of him with my kids and I have seen pictures and heard stories of how he was with his children too. I think he loved us each from day one.
Grandpa always read a children's book at Christmas time and for a long time Grandma got a new book each year so eventually there was quite a selection. There did end up being a few favorites though that got repeated multiple times and always got Grandpa crying. This year though while reading the story he stumbled over the words in one spot making a particularly funny sentence and we ended up laughing until the tears rolled down our checks instead of the normal sentimental tears Grandpa usually shed!
The below pics are from a trip to Colorado we took when Luke was one and a half. There are at least two other similar trips I remember taking to Colorado with the whole Bartel family when I was a kid, and for a long time Grandpa and my uncles would go skiing every year.
Grandpa was strong and always went on all the hardest hikes. Even as a grownup he seemed to have almost super human strength to me.
I think Grandpa had one of the strongest work ethics of anyone I know but he also had a lot of fun and getting work done together was always a good time. Grandpa had a very green thumb and a huge garden and they always grew so much corn and green beans that they shared with their children and grandchildren every year. While they did the majority of the work they did let us help put up the beans and corn each year. Grandpa was always the fastest at cutting corn and their corn always tasted amazing!
Grandpa was always joking, mostly though it was just one liners, not jokes that you might retell. He also wasn't afraid to joke about things like farts which the grand kids loved. One that he often repeated happened when one of us kids was drinking tea or asking for more tea at the dinner table. He would tell us that, "you better be careful or you might drown in your tea pee!"
Below Grandpa pushing Luke on the old swing set at their house. They got this swing set when my mom was little and it is now at my parents house. I remember Grandpa pushing me so high on the swings that I thought I was going to just go flying into the air!
Wheelbarrow rides and rides in the little red wagon were so much fun!
One of Grandma and Grandpa's anniversaries celebrated at my uncle Larry's house.
For a while whenever we went to their house Luke wanted to help with the wood pile but he would get so confused and he would just move the wood from the wood box to the tub and back again over and over again.
Below Grandpa and Luke playing, I remember Luke was kicking this ball and when it would hit Grandpa he would pretend to be hurt and roll on the floor and say, "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!"
Luke's second birthday party. Grandpa was at all of Luke's parties until last year when full of turned 6 and wanted to invite school friends instead of just family.
Playing at grandma and grandpa's house. It was so windy that day Luke could let the wind blow the bubbles for him.
The Christmas before Aaron was born Luke ran around with the camera and we got a lot of interesting pictures like the one of grandpa below.
Luke's third birthday party, the first at the bowling alley!
Aaron was born on March 22, 2011 and Grandma and Grandpa Bartel were among the first visitors. They were so thoughtful and brought presents for big brother too!
Grandpa's quick laughter while listening to Luke's story...
Grandpa had a collection of model trains and the kids loved to play with it with him.
Below is taken from the same day as above and on the left hand side you can see a bit of the retaining wall my grandpa built along the creek to help keep it from flooding the house. He found a place where he could get old concrete from roads and got a concrete saw and would cut up huge blocks of concrete into manageable sizes, load them into his pick-up, haul them home and very carefully place them along the creek. The wall is somewhere between 150-200 feet long and is up to 8 feet high in some spots. When he was done he back filled it with dirt so that he could mow with one wheel on the wall and not have to use a weed-eater to trim it. For Grandpa anything worth doing was worth doing well and carefully so that it would last, so that things were not wasted, so that it was as functional as possible, and so that it would be not only useful but also beautiful.
Another Christmas, another story, Grandpa reading it to Luke.
Playing in the sandbox! To begin with it had been full of grass so Grandpa grabbed a shovel and Luke helped him clean it out.
Grandpa loved to play ball with his kids and grandkids and great grandkids. Luke learned to hit a baseball before he turned three. Grandpa got him a soft foam bat and ball for Christmas before he turned three and by the time Aaron was born I just had to sit on the couch and pitch for him, and if he missed, which was only ever due to my bad arm, he would pick up the ball and toss it in the air and hit it to me! It was special that Grandpa loved to play with him.
Grandpa enjoying Charlie!
Grandpa played piano by ear. I wish this picture was better but it was taken in the Schowalter apartment and he was playing for the boys. He loved music, especially hymns, and taught himself to play his favorites. He also was part of a men's quartet at church for many many years and always enjoyed hearing us grand kids play music.
Another favorite time, last thanksgiving 2013 we went to the Bluestem cottage at Camp Mennoscah to celebrate grandma and grandpa's 60th wedding anniversary. Below he is playing with balloons with Charlie.
He also had a really good time playing games and almost always won. Below he is playing a Canadian game with Andrea.
Swinging while watching the grand kids play on the playground at camp.
Grandpa holding Sarah for the first time, she was one day old.
And making Sarah smile a few months old when we went to visit them at the new house in Hesston.
We had just gotten the boys new bikes and the hand brakes on Aaron's bike were to tight, so Grandpa fixed them.
When Becca came to visit in mid June we had a meal at Ben and Andrea's house, here are a few of him enjoying family time.
That same week was harvest and he and Grandma came out to enjoy my mom's harvest meal.
Visiting at my mom's house.
Grandpa taught me so many things. He taught me about valuing family, history, hard work, humor, music and having fun together. His faith was important to him and he talked with us about it earnestly. I remember as kids he wouldn't let us take even a sip of tea before we had thanked God for his blessings and at the end of every meal we thanked Grandma for the wonderful food. He knew that his memory was failing and he did his best to tell us about his memories from growing up and where we came from. He gave us so much and never held back. I love him and miss him so much, and I am so grateful to have had him in my life.