Almost a month ago, I lost one of the most dearest men in my life, my sweet grandfather. He was 91 years old and lived an amazing life. But no matter how much we tell ourselves that, the it still doesn't make it acceptable to lose him so quickly. I was honored to be asked to speak about him at his funeral on February 20 in San Antonio, Texas. I wanted a written copy of what I said, though I spoke from notes and most definitely from the heart. I thought here would be a nice place to have record of my words.
My Grandfather – Ralph Murray McBeth
My name is Rebecca, and I am Ralph’s oldest grandchild, daughter of Ron. But he was never Ralph to me. He was simply Grandpa. So that’s how I am going to refer to him today.
I feel so honored to be able to tell you more about the man I knew as my Grandpa. You have read the amazing tribute to his life that Nancy wrote in the program. And you have heard stories about the heroic career he has had. As a child growing up, I heard many amazing stories of all the moves he and his family had endured with the Air Force but I never came to realize the one common thread all his stories came back to – and that was family.
Family was the most important thing to Grandpa – the MOST important thing. And I am happy that I have the opportunity to tell you a few stories that illustrate that today:
I used to ask Grandpa again and again how he had met Grandma. I loved to hear him tell the story- he always had a twinkle in his eye. He would refer to the “nice tour he had in Miami Beach because he had met “his Gal”. Grandma used to got to USO Dances with a group of girlfriends but one night, they stood her up. Come to find out, they had stood her up because they had met a group of handsome boys in a convertible. They had the perfect guy for her - G&G me on a blind date!! They went to a big dance hall and Grandma said that Grandpa didn't dance one time with her! But that didn't seem to matter as they fell in love and were married soon after!
They were the ultimate example of what a strong and loving marriage was. They would have celebrated 70 years this August - 70 YEARS!! When I was going through pictures last week, I came across this beautiful one of Grandma from 1940s – On the back was inscribed a love note – their first anniversary – the corners are wore down and the back is faded – Grandma said she had sent it all the way to Italy and you could tell that picture had remained in his wallet for a very long time. I guarantee that if you looked in his wallet today there would still be a picture of Grandma.
He was an incredible father to Ron, Randy, Nancy & David. Here are some words that his youngest son, David, wrote on his behalf:
When I think back on the life my father had on this earth, I believe it to be remarkable. Who would have thought a young man born in Rising Star Texas would end up traveling all over the world, defend his country in two wars, live through the Great Depression, experience the largest earthquake in the North American Continent in Alaska, travel pulling a trailer from one end of the United States to the other, put four kids through college, raise that family with his lovely wife and be married to her for almost 70 years! That is an extraordinary life. Truly my father was a part of what has been called the “Greatest Generation”. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny”. We may think we have it hard today, but my parents lived through some of the toughest times our country has ever faced. They sacrificed and worked hard so that their children and their children’s children would have a better life. Thank you Dad for being a wonderful father. For teaching us about hard work, love of family, being a good husband, faith in God, and enjoying life. We will miss you greatly on this earth, but know that your place in Heaven is secure, watching over us as we continue in this life. Love, Your Son David
My Grandpa had the most amazing memory – I often looked at him in amazement at some of the things he could remember, as I can hardly remember what I have had for breakfast.
One of my favorite stories came out of WWII. The war had just ended and they were flying out of Italy to come home. Someone had found diesel generators to run the lights to the tents and barracks while they were there. They turned all the lights on in the tents & bunkers and just left. He remembers flying away and looking back at the glowing field and remembering the smell of diesel. He always wondered what had happened- did someone just turn the lights off?
He also could remember exactly what Grandma was wearing when he got home from the war, right down to the shoes and her short hair (he liked it long).
And he always asked about your extended family & friends when you saw him - he cared so much about everyone.
Grandpa was the best conversationalist – He never knew a stranger- could talk to anyone. As a teenager, I used to roll my eyes at it – I mean really, do you have to talk to everyone Grandpa???? As he talked to the guy sitting next to him while we waited for a table at the Red Lobster.
But as an adult, man I appreciated it. I had some of the best conversations with him - I learned so much about him. He just loved to talk. He could outlast me in a conversation – sometimes into the wee hours of the night, where I was struggling to stay awake.
He wasn’t your typical stoic grandfather, who watched from afar. He was hands-on – wanted to know what was going on in your life. He expressed immense joy, so much pride, and pure sadness at times. He never hid his emotion, was never ashamed to show it to us and I believe it all showed us how to love better.
That said, he was the gentlest man I ever knew. I never ever saw him cross with another person. Never. Now his children may tell you another story, but he loved his “sweetie-girl” and spoiled me rotten. Every time I saw him, he told me how proud he was of me.
And I know he was, as he was there for every single important moment of my life. He was there for my High School graduation in Nevada. And he drove out to Nevada again for my Wedding. He and Grandma were there for my college graduation in Illinois. And he was there within a day or two to meet each of my 3 sweet babies after they were born.
After he retired, he & Grandma took up traveling the country in a Winnebago – I thought every grandparent did this. Nope, they were unique. He loved to explore and travel - I picked up that trait and hope that one day Matt & I can travel around the country as he and Grandma did.
He also was an avid golfer and we he had to give that up, he took up a new hobby........shopping.
This man LOVED to shop!!! He went to Marshalls so much, I am sure they welcomed him each Tuesday as those were the "best days to go to Marshalls, Rebecca!"We were the sharpest looking family around – am I right Uncle Randy?
He was also a GREAT BBQer- I will miss his amazing BBQ. My favorite meal was his BBQ chicken. My daughter learned to love ribs because of his BBQ. She used to compare all over ribs she would get to “Grandpa San Antonio’s ribs”.
Last fall, we were over for dinner and Grandpa was outside BBQing. I went outside to sit with him not realizing that BBQ is a long process. And I asked him to teach me. Tried to turn the pork and chicken too soon. He kept having to tell me to have patience, BBQing is a slow process - good things come to those who wait – have patience Rebecca.
Only now do I realize Grandpa has patience in everything he did – he took his time and did things well. I think we can all take a lesson in that.
While we were grilling, we talked and he told me a story that I want to tell you today. As a boy, he used to plow peanuts til 2-3 am in a big tractor and it was hot. I asked him, “What did you do while you were plowing for hours? No cell phone, no iPad, not even a book?” He told me, “I didn’t need all of that – I was alone with my thoughts – there’s a lot to be said about just being alone with your thoughts Rebecca.”
I’ve spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts this week Grandpa – thinking of you and I’ve had the best memories because of it.
About 7 years ago, I spent an evening video-taping a conversation with my grandparents. And I spent this past weekend watching it. At the end of the 2 hours, I asked Grandpa what he wants to be remembered for. And he said – His Family. He hopes his family will remain as close as they are today and not drift apart. He wanted us to remember to not let little things get in the way of our relationships and slow down, interact with one another.
That is the life my grandfather emulated. Family always came first – He wanted to celebrate every holiday together, he loved going out to Randolph for brunch for all the birthdays, and he never went longer than a few weeks without getting in contact with all of us.
He lived an amazing life that was dedicated fully to his wife, his children, Ron, Randy, Nancy, & David, his grandchildren, Macy, Ryan, Colin, & Spencer, and his great-grandchildren, Morganne, Jack, Ian, and Elle. And it is up to us to continue that legacy – to remain the strong family that he taught us to be.
The last thing he said about his life was that “We Were Blessed.” Grandpa, we were the ones who were blessed by you.
We don't get together enough with my father's side of the family. Even thought we live fairly close, it's never enough.
So when we do, we go big - we go to Brunch at the Base! Birthdays are celebrated at Randolph Air Force Base at the Officer's Club Sunday brunch. We have been coming for years - it is a treat for everyone.
Even the "kids table" enjoys it!!
The newest member of the family, Miss Elle, enjoyed it too!
My Grandparents are 90 & 85 years old this year. I think we have a great looking family.
Grandma with all the Grandkids (5 plus 3 married) and Great Grandkids(4).
My Uncle Randy's kids & Grandkids.
The newly married couple.
My Uncle David and his family.
Sissy is the oldest Great-Grandbaby of the family and is great with Elle.
And Ian is just fascinated with "Pa-Pa San Antonio".
The McBeth Family circa 2010.
Bruch at the Base in 2006.
Brunch at the Base started many many years ago and is a treasured tradition for us all to get together.
My paternal Grandma is 85 years old. Believe me, I know how blessed I have been to have had her all 38 years of my life. My earliest memories of her are in the kitchen - man, can she cook. Lasagna, Chicken Kiev, Curry, the best Christmas cookies you have ever had, homemade cakes, Monkey Bread, Eggs Benedict, and on and on. I once watched her cook a hot German Potato Salad from a 1945 Betty Crocker cookbook and did not skip one step or take one shortcut. Man, that was the best potato salad I have ever had.
Recently, my Grandma, my Aunt and I threw a shower for my cousin. Grandma insisted on making homemade Petit Fours - just like the ones she made for my mom's wedding shower in the 60's. I tried to convince her that buying them from a bakery would be so much easier - but she wouldn't hear of it.
The day of the shower, Grandma and I tackled the Petit Fours.
And we both agreed that it would be her last time to make them and my first and definitely LAST time to make them too!
They may not have been pretty - we just couldn't figure out the right consistency to make the icing stay on the side s- but they were "oh-my-goodness" good. Don't ask how many of these bad boys I ate that day.
I don't care if they weren't pretty. I love the one-on-one time I got with Grandma.
She is one amazing lady, my Grandma. The wife of a Military Officer, she has survived WWII as a new wife, the Korean War as a mom, an Alaskan Earthquake, multiple heart surgeries, and the death of her oldest son. She is compassionate and loving, and strong, and matriarchal. She is the most organized woman I know - you should see her spice cabinet - and goes all out for family events. Even at her age, she still wants to cook an elaborate dinner for everyone's birthdays.
You think she would be set in her ways, pushing away the modern conveniences of our century. Nope - this lady can handle her cell phone perfectly - in fact she prefers to use it! She has a whole slew of TV shows stored on her DVR and is always telling me about the "good ones". And she reads voraciously. In fact, she and I trade book reviews often.
As her eldest granddaughter, it is hard for me to come to terms with Grandma growing older. I have known her as a young Grandma who would go swimming with me and get on the floor and play barbies. Yet, it is so refreshing to me that I can have an adult conversation with her - get her advice on things - and hear new stories of her life as a mom of 4 children. In fact, I found out the other day that she was a Tupperware saleswoman!
I am so happy that my children have gotten to know her as "Grandma" too. Brody has a special bond with her - as a little boy he just loved to sit in her lap - and now as he is growing, I notice that he still gives her long hugs. She is an amazing model of a loving Grandma - one I hope to inspire to be just like one day.
And when I am 85 and married for over 60+ years to the love of my life - I want to be smiling into my golden years - just like these 2 cuties!
Growing up in the South, I was taught to be a lady. Say excuse me,thank you, may I please....etc. Hold the door open for others, offer assistance always, and more. And I appreciated learning those manners, as they were instilled at a young age and are all automatic now. I catch myself doing the same thing with my kids to make sure they remember their manners too.
But my hubby derails that. No, I don't mean he's a uncouth pig that came from the north (no offense). He is very polite. Until it comes to passing gas.
I was taught that you go to another room to toot alone, or if someone else accidentally toots, you make no note of it, don't laugh and make someone feel out of place. That is the polite way to handle it.
But not Matt. It's a HUGE JOKE to him. And he has taught my kids that it is the funniest thing on the earth. I know that if all of them are giggling uncontrollably in the other room - don't go in there without a gas mask. They laugh at noisy ones, long ones, silent but deadly ones..... sigh....so much for my well-mannered children.
And they can recall perfectly the time that mom has tooted (which is NOT that many - I go in the other room, remember?). They just love to throw me under the bus and tell those stories. Seriously, the one when I was pregnant is NOT THAT FUNNY!
But what can this mom do? If I can't beat them, I have to join them.
Last night Bubba was in a singing mood and wanted to skype his "Gwa". No one was online, and wanting to capture his song, I pulled open a movie and recorded this:
Why do I laugh uncontrollably every time I watch this movie?? Darn you Matt - I used to think tooting was shameful. I used to cringe when I heard the F word (f*rt- ugh I still hate it!). And by golly, I never would have thought my son tooting on camera was funny. But now, I giggle along with them.
Oh dear, what's next? Everyone eats with their hands???
Ok friends, lesson learned! 7 days of non-stop fun = one tired momma!
I am so pooped and coming down with a cold, but I would not change a thing from last week - everything was perfect - the weather in the mid 70's, each day went off without a hitch, even Bubba was on his best behavior (most of the time). And we had what we will remember as one of the best Spring Breaks ever.
I sorted through 1200 photos that I took (remember, I will be blogging about all these places we went to over at R We There Yet Mom?. ) and narrowed it down to these few to give you a glimpse of our week. I'll tell you more about the fun days we had when I can catch my breath! For now, here is a tiny recap.
Day One: SeaWorld San Antonio - we haven't been in years, so Matt took the day off and down we went. The shows are even better than I remember. The rides are very fun with relatively little wait time - here is Bubba on his first ride of the day!
Matt & Bubba playing around - he was so good as we waited for the shows and waited for food and waited for rides. Yes, we and what felt like the entire state of Texas was there that day. It was crazy busy, but it didn't bother us.
Day Two: Hike a local spot here in Austin - Mt. Bonnell - It's an easy hike up to see the beautiful view of Lake Austin on one side and downtown Austin on the other. After our hike, we picnicked at Zilker Park and checked out the Austin NAture & Science Center where we dug up Dino bones in this huge pit of sand. An absolutely wonderful day that didn't cost a dime! Yay!
Day Three: Took us up to Waco to visit the Mayborn Museum. This complex features an incredible Natural History museum that my kids really did enjoy. But what they loved the most were the 17 (yep 17!) individual rooms at the Children's Museum. They especially loved the bubble room.....
We spent over 4 hours here and loved every minute of it. Can't wait to talk about it on my other site - it is a true gem.
After our fun, we headed over to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & History Museum, where we learned all about the Texas Rangers (no - not the baseball team, the law enforcement division). The kids played a fun scavenger hunt here.
To finish our busy day in Waco, we had to stop by the Mammoth Site - 19 sets of complete mammoth skeletons were discovered here in the late 70's and only recently, they opened this up to the public to see the last 2 they did not excavate. It was fascinating to see the size of these things! For more information about
mammoths, check out online paleontology classes that can teach you how slow birth rate and climate
change caused mammoth extinction.
Measuring up to see how they compare to a Mammoth!
Day Four: We headed out to the Hill Country and went directly to the LBJ Ranch and Historic Park. President LBJ gave his land to the government to create a historic park where you can go and see his old schoolhouse, tour his "Texas White House", where he spent 25% of presidency at, and tour the working ranch.
In the barns, the kids were able to feed and play with 5 week old goats - I just loved these pics!
Day Five: Started with the Vanishing Texas River Cruise, where we were taken by boat to an abandoned town that was moved in the 1930's when a dam was built. The town is covered in water 6 months out of the year and it was really cool to hear the history of it all. Brody says this was one of his favorites!
After that, we went to Longhorn Caverns - one of 7 caverns in Texas you can go into with a guided tour. What makes this one unique is that it was created by a river- the walls are so smooth! What was also funny was we ran into our neighbors while we were on the tour!
Dinner that night was the famous Cooper's BBQ in Llano - I have been wanting to go for years! The ribs melted in your mouth. Delish!!
Day Six: We took the kids to the Sweet Berry Farms to pick strawberries. We had a ton of fun doing it, but man those are tartest strawberries I ever tasted!!
While we were there, little Bubba took a quick train ride too!
Did you make it through? I'm exhausted just typing it all out. Looking back, we did a ton, but we took our time and never felt rushed. Yes, it was all planned this way so that I could write about all 20+ places we visited last week. But it was a completely do-able and enjoyable schedule. The kids and I learned so much history and saw so many cool things, that we have been talking about it for days. I know in a few short years, hanging out with mom for Spring Break is going to be at the bottom of the list, so I am taking it all in while I can!
Linking up this post with my girls, Impulsive Addict and Seriously Shawn (who I get to see in less than 43 days - are you jealous???) for their Talk To Us Tuesday meme. Link up whatever you got- there are NO rules!!
I am blessed to have grown up near my cousins. We were best buddies even though I was the oldest - we played Barbies together and danced like Madonna when we were kiddos.
And though we have grown up (and slightly apart), there is still always that comfortableness that come with being in a family together.
My kids LOVE to play with their cousins - they are like add-on siblings to play and have sleep-overs with.
It warms my heart to see my kiddos with their cousins.
And even though we live far apart and see each other only a few times a year, my kids love spending time with their cousins.
Especially these 3 - the youngest 3 (until last week!!).
When they were together this summer and over the Holidays, they loved running around together in a pack, causing mischief.
And these two little boys - so close in age - didn't quite understand how to share - there were constant battles for toys, fussing over ownership, and general natural competitiveness. We just laughed about it.
Cause we KNOW they will be BEST BUDS as they grow up.
Sis is the oldest of the Darling clan - This past week added 2 more cousins to the family too! A GIRL & a BOY!! Just more cousins to love on!
My hope is the hugs & kisses continue and they grown up valuing how special it is to be surrounded by cousins.
Hi - I'm a mom of 3 who loves to travel and discover new & fun things to do with my kiddos....and then I love to tell you all about it. I really like social media - some may say I'm addicted to it - so you may see a picture or post or link or more......