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  • Writer's picturedawnelle

He walked this Land

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

My grandfather was given the name "Poppy" by no other than yours truly. A simple, cute name from a toddler for a strong, hardworking, brilliant man. Poppy was many things. A true outdoorsman, he would go hunting and bring home rattlesnake rattles, which I took for show-and-tell at school. We ate deer, moose, bear, and elk. He fished, rode his horses and camped. No fancy outdoor equipment for Poppy; he packed his supplies on his mule. He was strong in body, but also in mind. His natural business sense combined with being a tireless worker proved successful- he built his business from nothing. And Poppy was generous. Generous, but mostly I was unaware of this, as his giving was done without fanfare. His quiet way of blessing others has become my definition of authentic generosity. And behind the seemingly gruff, demanding businessman that most knew, a loving and protective soul was waiting for those fortunate enough to be on the receiving end. Poppy was type of person you wanted to please, because you knew he wouldn't give you platitudes. If you did what was right and honorable, he would be so proud. And a simple look from him was more than enough reward. If you were struggling, he was quick to lead you back to the foundations held so dear. When his heart eventually slowed, and betrayed his ever-sharp mind, he was gone, and a piece of my foundation seemed to crumble away. I often wish I could sit by him again, and hear his voice. I can still feel myself as ten years old, sitting in his pickup truck, grabbing the offered piece of sun-warmed gum while bouncing on the bench seat with excitement. I can see his tanned arm on the steering wheel, guiding that truck over the bumpy gravel road to the barn on the old property. Scrambling out of the truck, I was so impatient then, waiting for him to hurry up and swing me on the horse. How I wish for what seemed like endless time then, and to have the luxury of impatience! Poppy was never impatient with me, or with the horses. I loved listening to him talk to the horses and watching them respond. Like myself, they were eager for his attention. Just being with Poppy, following him around, impacted me in a way I can't seem to articulate. There were trips together too- lovely experiences that I so appreciate. And I am left with so many memories. Yet, the memories I treasure most took place just minutes away from home. The daily mundane has risen in my mind to treasured. And so because of what seemed mundane then, more than ever I wish I could be with him now. To experience more daily, treasured moments. I would like to walk this property with him, right next to him. He walked this land! If I imagine, I can see him walking in that steady, fast gait, swinging his arm as he surveyed his land. I know I am assured I'll see him again someday, and how sweet a reunion that will be. But for now I will walk this land- beside him- if only in my heart.


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