Remembering my extraordinary grandpa Sam Jamieson
So, a lot has been happening around here and I’ve been utterly unmotivated to write. Snow has been floating thickly and unceasingly down, covering everything but the roads in pristine, sparkling purity. It reminds me of the day Dan proposed to me after we walked along the Mishawaka river walk gloved hand in gloved hand, feeling the gentle caress of large snowflakes on our faces.
I love – and hate – how memories work. I believe my memory is leakier than the average person’s and thus cling to my best memories. I want to close my eyes and be who I was in that moment, feel what I felt, but I feel as we change, our memories do to. We see them from a different angle in time.
My grandfather, Samuel John Jamieson, passed away at 12:05 am Saturday, January 24, 2015. I’m so glad my sisters and I were there the afternoon before, singing hymns to grandpa as he struggled to take in some of his breaths on earth. He loved hymns. At Christmas we would often gather to sing with grandpa whatever carols and hymns we could think of or he requested. He was always moved to tears.
We celebrated his life Friday, January 30, with the usual order of services, followed by powerfully moving military funeral rites. My stepdad Chuck told many touching stories from his time living with Grandpa in the last two years including this one.
For many nights soon after my Mom and Chuck moved in with grandpa they heard my grandpa tapitty tap tapping through the monitor. One morning Chuck went to ask what that “confounded noise” was —more politely phrased, of course. My grandpa, clearly a bit surprised that his tapping had been heard, explained “I use morse code to talk to my wife and God sometimes.” My Grandmother Myrtle passed away in 2004.
My mother spoke simply of the firm moral foundation her parents had bestowed on all of them. She described him as a man that loved his wife, loved his children and would always thoughtfully ask for forgiveness if he felt he’d trespassed.
I’ve never felt very close to my mom’s side of the family, except to Grandpa and Grandma. I don’t recall spending very much time with my mom’s brothers. For whatever reason it didn’t seem we had much in common with them, although I know that can’t be true. We did all certainly have in common our love and respect for Grandpa.
Grandpa J. was 93 when he passed. He was already in his 70s and blind from glaucoma when I was young. I remember him as mischievous and always dropping little jokes or puns into every conversation. I constantly asked him to tell me stories of his time overseas during World War II.
I vaguely remember this particular story from his time in China where he saw a young man in a little skid on a lake with a tamed large-billed bird of some kind. When grandpa looked closely he could see that there was a collar around the bird’s neck so that it would catch fish over and over in its deep bill, but not be able to eat the fish. The bird would fly back to the boat with his catch and the boy would eventually give the bird a portion.
I remember Grandpa and Grandma would take us to Burger King and it was a real treat because I got to have soda and toys. I’d be chattering away, distracted from my food and Grandpa would playfully snap me back into reality by proclaiming in a deep commanding voice with a glint of mischief in his eye: EAT … EAT … EAT.
My grandpa led a very interesting and adventurous life. Read his obituary just to glean a bit of all that he was up to. One particularly fun bit of info — my grandmother Myrtle and Grandpa were both Ham (amateur) radio operators (W9GQQ and W5NXH). They met on the radio and carried on a long-distance relationship “on the air” until they married on the former TV show “Bride & Groom.” My mom always like to say they were like the first internet relationship, but not.
My second cousin Kaye (she is my Grandpa’s brother’s daughter) told several interesting stories of a younger Sam as we ate together after the service. Here’s just one. Kaye said, “Our Grandmother liked to tell the story about a serenade she ‘enjoyed’ by what must have been the first boy band ever. Three boys — my Dad Bill Jamieson, his brother [my grandpa] Sam Jamieson, and a buddy — played the bag pipes for Kate Jamieson. Imagine this, if you can, they each had a cat held just right in their one arm and held the cat’s tail to their mouth with the other hand and proceeded to bite the cat’s tail to create a sound, which I suppose they thought sounded a great deal like a bag pipe.”
After a select few of us watched the casket descend slowing into the grave, shivering in the bitter cold, we took refuge inside the church (Harris Prairie Church of Christ in Granger) — where my grandpa laid the stonework in the sanctuary and the Baptistery from floor to ceiling — and heard stories while we ate wonderful food brought be friends and family. Among the hearty spread were Gail’s spicy gluten-free ginger cookies and fancy drinking cocoa to keep us warm. I brought my famous flourless monster cookies, and my sister and I were both asked to bring our family cheeseball, originally my Grandmother Willa Cunningham’s recipe.
This scrumptious cheeseball has been with us through many difficult times and always goes with us to family gatherings. It reminds me of my grandma, it reminds me of my mom, and it reminds me to cherish my family.
- 3, 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
- 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8-12 shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ teaspoon (or more to taste) garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon blue cheese (optional)
- 1 cup crushed pecans or walnuts (optional)
- Mix all ingredients together in mixer.
- Taste and season accordingly, mix some more.
- Shape into ball or other festive shape and roll in nuts for finished look.
- Serve with various crackers.
If you think it will be eaten in just 2 or so days, include the blue cheese, if you want it to last longer than that in the fridge, omit the blue cheese. It is good for a couple weeks without the blue cheese. With the blue cheese it gets rather sharp rather quickly.