Monday, November 11, 2013

veterans day, and the shoaf legacy

veterans day has always brought back so many memories for me. and with this being the fist veteran's day since my grandpa shoaf passed away, it holds an even deeper spot in my heart.

as a young boy in the 1940s, my grandpa lied about his age and joined the Navy. he served as a seabee during the korean war. 

every year my high school invites the elementary school next door over, and puts on a veterans day program. my grandpa and grandma would attend every year. i remember as a young elementary student walking over to the high school and scouring all the seats in the center, which were reserved for veterans, to find my grandparents. when the program ended, all my cousins and i (and most often my dad would be there with them) would instantly run over to them to talk as long as we could before going back to class.     

on february 11, 2013 my grandpa, paul franklin shoaf, left behind the greatest legacy i know. farm boy and i were just dating when i got the news that morning, but we quickly made the necessary changes to be with all my family later that week. this meant making the 24 hour drive from utah to  hope, indiana on valentine's day aka my 22nd birthday. it was unbelievably worth it though.    

my mind is so scattered as memories of that weekend home, as well as the 22 years i was blessed to know and spend time with my grandpa. so instead of trying to sort them out perfectly for this blog post, i am just going to ramble a bit, and get all these memories recorded here so i don't ever forget them.

as soon as word spread, several family members worked tirelessly to gather photos of my grandpa throughout his life. i loved looking at these, and hearing all the crazy stories.

my absolute favorite photo of my grandpa is shown on the very bottom left of this display.

and here it is much larger. this is my grandpa with his brother ike, and sister (not positive which sister though). they rigged up this cart and harness for their goat to take them around town. 

my grandma has a large print of this in her home (along with many other great family photos, that i love to look at every time i visit), and when my little sister frances was younger, she would try to do this herself with goats my parents bought her at auctions.

my grandpa was always so proud of his service, and often told some really great stories about those days. my favorite is his story of getting a mermaid tattoo on his arm. 

my grandparents have 13 children, so my grandpa worked hard year round doing constructions work mainly. my parents bought an old foreclosure house when i was in high school, and i worked along side him the whole summer to fix it up as a rental property. he's also worked on the gazebo in our town square, and countless farm and house projects on my parents farm.  

he didn't just work on houses or construction sites though. he was an amazing wood worker. and the proof is in all the pictures below. he often made picture frames and filled them with arrowheads he'd found around their farm property. he even made bassinets for several family members. my mom, sister, and sister-in-law all received one when they were pregnant with their first child. i wish i knew how many he has made total.   

my grandpa left behind such an amazing, and very large legacy when he passed. he, along with my grandma had 13 children (11 boys and 2 girls). according to the obituary in the paper, he had 69 grandchildren, and 41 great-grandchildren at the time (and since then there has been at least a few new great-grandchildren born, and more on the way).

with a family so large, the "shoaf" name is known by everyone in our small town of hope and the surrounding area. my grandpa was very well known for his family, service, work, and for being an all around kind man to anyone he was in contact with. 

this photo is the most recent family reunion that was held during the summer of 2011.

and all the children with grandma before the funeral. 

as soon as farm boy and i arrived in indiana that week, we instantly went over to the local high school in town. the same high school my dad and siblings all attended, as well as myself and my siblings, and several other grandchildren and even great-grandchildren now. we went to help set up chairs for the viewing and funeral that would occur there the next day.

my grandpa was actually great friends with the family of the local funeral home in hope (heck, my grandpa was great friends with everyone in hope). however, when just your family alone easily totals over 100 people, the small local funeral home doesn't quite cut it. the high school administration was very kind though and rearranged athletic event locations so we could use the large main gym for the services. and we did just the next two days. 

i remember the gym quickly filling up with family members arriving from all over the country. 

i remember looking at all the beautiful flowers so many friends and families sent.

i remember staring at the amazing flower arrangement on my grandpa's casket, especially the robin's nesk, and bees that are such a special tough reminding me of my grandpa.

i remember my grandma who was so strong. i mean, she has to one tough woman to raise 13 kids in some really tough days. (and just so you know that's my grandma, and beautiful older sister, christa)

i remember going to hug her the morning of the funeral, and i honestly didn't even want to. i knew i would break down and not be able to handle it at all, but farm boy pushed me towards her and pretty much made me confront her. and i'm so glad he did. she was the only one that could comfort me at that time, and i am so grateful for those few moments we had together.  

i remember the night of the viewing so well. family and friends all gathered in the gym to pay their respects. the line of people wound around most of the gym the entire night. my siblings and i staked out a section of the seats and hung out together the whole night. we recounted memories of grandpa, grandma, dad, and the farm. we laughed, and joked. we played with my nieces, and nephews. we brought in close friends and family to talk and laugh even more. i won't ever forget those moments with them that night. 

i remember after several hours, we took a quick pizza break and went to a local pizza shop for their buffet. they were close to closing, and had little pizza left, but when a group of shoafs came in they asked us what we wanted and quickly filled our stomachs up so we could get back to the high school.

i remember the last hour or so of that night, which was probably my favorite. the crowd died down, and most people headed home. some of the family hung around though, including my entire family (minus a few tired nieces, and nephew). in those last moments that night farm boy and olliver became new best friends again. they used the giant aisle down the middle of the gym as a race course and proceeded to race each other what seemed a hundred times. family members slowly started saying their goodbyes to my grandpa since it was the last few moments before his casket would be sealed forever. my grandma said a few words, one of my cousins gave a prayer, and then it was time to go home till the morning. leaving the gym that night was hard. saying goodbye to my grandpa and leaving him behind was beyond hard for me. and the thousands of tears running down my eyes, and all my siblings showed just that.  

 i remember the music sang, the words spoken, and the stories retold.

i remember the long, long, long line of cars in the procession that made a loop around our town square before heading to the cemetery.

i remember the folding and presenting of the flag to my grandma and then the playing of the Taps.

i remember grandma telling all the grandchildren to grab a flower from the arrangement to keep.

i remember the luncheon so many friends put together for our very large family to enjoy after a busy couple of days. and getting this sweet picture of farm boy, grandma, and myself. i love this picture so so much, because farm boy is just lit up with happiness. farm boy has taken to my grandma quite well in the past couple of years. he loves her like his own, and looks out for her in any way possible. even more though, grandma loves him back just as much. they have a sweet little relationship between the two, and i am so grateful for them both.

grandpa and grandma on their wedding day. they haven't changed a bit since august 7th, 1952.

when all is said and done, i am beyond grateful for this great man that i call grandpa, and the great man he raised to be my father.

i am so grateful for his service for our country at such a young age.

happy veterans day to all that have served, are serving, and will serve. we live in such a blessed country with so many men and women willing to serve for our freedom.