Growing up, I had the privilege of living in the same town as my grandparents, Bob and Pauline Ness. They helped raise me, and were present for almost every sporting event, musical performance, and other major life events. When I look back and think about my childhood and adolescence, I remember them at everything. These memories became especially important after my grandpa started showing signs of dementia around the time I went to college. Because I was only an hour and a half away, I would often drive back to Story City and spend a couple hours on the weekend reminiscing with him. A few memories would always make him roar with laughter.
There was the time we went golfing with my grandpa’s sister and husband and we were so slow we ended up having at least a dozen groups play through us. During the same game, we spent 30 minutes on one hole because they were all determined to hit their balls across the water hazard—despite losing several each to it. Or when he would coax me into a play a game of cards or checkers in which he would mercilessly beat me. To this day, I still think he looked at the reflection in my glasses to see my cards…
My grandpa passed away a few years ago to Alzheimers and those memories have been near and dear to my heart ever since. Recently I saw my grandma and shared some of my memories of grandpa with her. In return, she reminded me of one that I hadn’t remembered.
“Funtascup” – This was a word or expression that Grandpa would frequently use when something did not go according to plan, when he could not figure something out, when things were out of his control and when he was frustrated. When his kids and grandkids would question the origin, they were told the word was as Norwegian as “Ufda”, kumla and munga tuk. When we were writing his eulogy we asked someone who spoke Norwegian what it meant. We were surprised to find out it was an actual swear word! This was a surprise considering my grandpa was the last person who would ever use a curse word in front of us—though it would be just like him to excuse it if it’s in another language. We included it in his eulogy and everyone had a good laugh over it.
This Grandparents Day I thought about all the great memories I have with my grandparents and all the lessons they taught me growing up. Perhaps the most important after all was to choose your words carefully—you never know what words people will remember you most for.
Written By: Melissa Ness