In this week’s edition of “My Thoughts Exactly” Daniel “Pinto” Gunderson remembers his grandfather, Glenn “Gunder” Gunderson.
I was born on February 21, 1989, a day before my Grandpa’s 69th birthday. Obviously I don’t remember his reaction to my birth, but I have to imagine that he welcomed me in a pair of overalls covered in dirt and grease.
Grandpa, who was always referred to as Grandpa Gunder or simply Gunder, loved hard work. Well into his 80’s, Gunder was never one to shy away from a day at the farm. The crops always needed work and who better to do it but him.
Forget the fact that this hard work ethic was passed down to two hard working sons, Bill and Scott, and one hard working grandson in Paul. They were doing just fine with the small farm just outside of Bathgate, N.D.
Gunder needed to feel the dirt between his hands and the sun on his brow. He also needed the company. Not to say that he was lonely in any way, but farming in the Red River Valley is two parts doing the work and one part talking about the work that needs to be done. Gunder was never one to be quiet.
The man was extremely friendly but not overly intrusive into people’s lives. He probably knew everyone in the county but not by name. Our conversations usually went like this:
“That’s where what’s his name use to live.”
“Who is that Grandpa?”
“You know. What’s his name, lived down the road by that Morrison boy.”
“I’m not sure who you’re talking about.”
“He drove that ’67 Ford. That thing was cherry red with white trim. I remember when he bought the thing. He used to drive that into town every weekend.”
“Who did Grandpa?”
“You know. What’s his name.”
No one ever took offense to it if he didn’t remember their name. Frankly, he became friends with so many people over his 92 years of life that it was hard to keep track. He had now rolodex, no cell phone. If you wanted to get a hold of him, he was either at home or at the shop.
The shop, mind you, was ever changing.
The shop at the farm or the shop at the Heritage Center outside of Cavalier, N.D. Gunder and his brother, Marvin, would spend countless hours out there fixing up old tractors to get ready for, as Gunder so elegantly put it, “The Deal.”
The Deal happened usually the first weekend in September and those two soaked up the event. Not because people would come up and heap endless amounts of praise on them for the work they did, but because they got to play with the toys of their youth.
To Gunder, life was simple. You worked hard and you treated everyone with kindness and respect. You receive the same thing in return.
I do refer to him as my Grandpa Gunder, but for the other members of our family and numerous others that were blessed enough to have talked to him, he was their Grandpa too.
One of the greatest examples I can think to enforce my point is a man by the name of Tom Erovick. As I mentioned before, my father, uncle and cousin run the family farm. So does Tom.
Tom is so important to our family and Grandpa Gunder welcomed him with open arms. In Gunder’s obituary, it has the regulatory list of those who survived him. With the list getting to numerous to fit all the names, people are put into groups like nephews and nieces.
At the end of this list is four simple words that spoke volumes to me; “And friend, Tom Erovick.” That is how important Tom was to Gunder and Gunder to Tom.
The end of my life will come at some point. What I do between now and then will define me as a person and I can only hope that at the end, I somewhat resemble the person that my Grandpa Gunder became.