My dearest Grandpa passed away 2 weeks ago. It was not unexpected, but it is still hard. I've been putting off writing about it because I miss him so much. He was a fantastic father and grandfather, and a wonderfully caring and gentle person. He truly is one of the greatest people I have ever known. He made everybody from the clerk at the grocery store to the lady playing the organ at church feel like a million bucks. I miss him and his kind ways very much.
I had the opportunity of representing all of his grandkids by giving a talk at his funeral. It was a big responsibility and I worried so much about doing him justice. Its really hard to sum up all the things that made him such a fun grandfather, but I did my best. Now I just need to do my best during the rest of my life so I can end up where he is.
Here is my talk:
You might wonder who the luckiest kids in all the world are. Well I can tell you. They’re not kids sponsored by Oprah, or kids whose parents own candy stores. The luckiest kids in the world are the grandkids of Lloyd Rasmussen.
When the 18 of us saw that Grandpa Ras, our favorite person in the world, was dying and would soon be leaving us, we knew we had to do something to thank him for the many things we have learned from him. Each of us wrote him a short letter thanking him and with our parents’ help we found pictures of grandpa and each one of his grandkids. We made them into a book that we will forever treasure.
Today I’ll be sharing thoughts from all of my cousins’ letters. Though he didn’t often give us formal lessons—the things we learned from watching this sweet man have shaped our lives.
He taught us what it means to be a husband. We loved hearing him call Grandma “Miss America.” We loved seeing our grandpa escort Grandma, Aunt Winnie, and their neighbor Helen to plays and sporting events at BYU. He’d drop off the girls at the door, go park the car a mile away, jog back to the event, and do it all over again at the end. He took such great care of “the girls.” And if we had the chance to go with Gramps, he gave us the same treatment. Grandpa’s love for Grandma was evident in everything he did. Miss America is a fitting title for Grandma because Grandpa truly treated her like a queen. From grandpa the boys learned how to be husbands and the girls learned what to look for in one.
Grandpa taught us to have fun. Nobody played cards better than Grandpa Ras—and when you got to learn a new game by being on his team, you knew you were gonna win. Almost as fun as watching Grandpa’s card skills, was hearing him shout phrases like “Let’s bid ‘em to the moon!” Or “who dealt this mess?” He always had his card ready to play before the hand was led—like he knew what you’d play before you did. We loved seeing Grandma steal peeks at his hand (though she’d never admit it). In addition to card games—Grandpa filled our summers with magic. Grandpa often took the boys on backpacking trips in the mountains. He’d give us rides on his old Honda motorcycle and take us camping in his trailer. Grandpa would spend the night out on the parade route for the 4th of July to secure a prime location every year!
One of the things we loved best, though, was boating. Gramps taught us to waterski and if we were a little too timid, he’d talk us into taking a “nice, slow, sensible ride” on the tube. It didn’t take long for us to realize there was nothing nice, slow, or sensible about his tube rides—once I truly wondered if he was trying to kill me—but as we hung on to the straps and each other for dear life, hitting wave after wave, we fell in love with the boat, with muddy, stinky Utah Lake, and with the knowledge we had that our grandpa was the funnest grandpa on the block. Those summers on the lake transformed us from cousins to best friends.
We all remember Grandpa tickling us. He didn’t ever tickle us until we wet our pants—we left those shenanigans up to Shaun and Sue—but we could always count on Grandpa chasing us around the yard if we taunted him by dissing his favorite singer. Saying “Frank Sinatra’s Not So Hot-ra” was always a request for tickles. We also remember Gramps tickling us with the question “Who’s girl are you?” “Or who’s boy are you?” He wouldn’t stop until we’d shout with tears streaming down our faces “Your girl, Grandpa!” or “I’m your boy!” We’ll always be your boys and girls, Grandpa, always.
We also remember the way Grandpa made us feel about ourselves. Each of us felt like the favorite grandchild and we each have solid evidence to prove it. He would dote on us, call our parents to brag about us, and make us feel like we were amazing even for accomplishing dumb things like checking the flavor to water ratio of his crystal light concoctions. He always called on our birthdays—often before 7 am.
He made us feel important by spending time with us. We loved BYU games. He’d hand the usher a handful of tickets and then shoo in all us grandkids before the usher had a chance to see if the number of tickets actually equaled the number of kids. We’d watch grandpa diligently keep basketball statistics during the game. When we’d watch games on tv at Grandpa’s house, he’d pace around the room, jump on his mini trampoline, and do push ups to calm his nerves. We loved watching him worry—even if the game wasn’t close.
Grandpa taught us to be generous. You knew when you went to Grandma and Grandpa’s that Grandpa would feed you. Often we’d cry out “No! No more Grandpa! Really I’m full!” before he threw another scoop of potatoes onto our plates. Grandpa always had a basement full of pop and a freezer full of ice cream. He kept a candy machine on the counter, a bag of popcorn in the hall, and licorice in the cupboard. And he liked nothing more than to feed you and watch you enjoy it. He always had a favorite restaurant. We remember trips to BYU cafeteria and Chucka-rama (which we lovingly called Chuck-a-rampa) He loved places where “you can see all the food” and pick what you want. He also sent us on runs for subway sandwiches, Little Cesar’s Pizza, and McDonalds for Big Mac Monday. We will always remember how kindly and patiently he treated us when we broke mirrors, lamps, and even once or twice the pool table. And we’ll never forget the time we found and devoured a bag of licorice in the basement without asking. We felt such remorse at having “stolen” from our grandpa that we sadly headed upstairs to make our apologies. Grandpa exclaimed, “Holy Toledo! I forgot! I bought a bag for each of you!” and he handed each of us our own 2 lb bag of licorice.
Our grandpa wasn’t only a true gentleman, but also a truly gentle man. He cried with joy over everything: mission calls, engagements, weddings, BYU acceptance letters, birth announcements. We cry with joy over the life our Grandpa lived and the wonderful man he was. We knew of the tender concern and love that he felt for each of us and we knew we were prized in his heart. Grandpa, you will always be prized in our hearts, and we can’t wait to see you again.
Your grand children