OPINION: The importance of Grandparents

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, shares his take on the importance of Grandparents

Fmr. Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson

My Grandpa Christ, was the only grandparent that was alive and lived a few years after I was born. Grandpa Christ was born in Norway in 1872 and immigrated to United States in 1893 at the age of 21, settling in Rolette County, North Dakota. According to his citizenship papers, he became a citizen of the United States on December 1, 1898. He married my Grandma, Gunvor, in 1895. In 1905, they moved to Thief River Falls, Minnesota where he was a rural mail carrier with a team of horses. They moved to Dunn County in 1915 and settled in the Werner area. They had six girls (One being my mother). Grandma Gunvor died in 1923. In 1945, grandpa moved into Dunn Center and lived in a one-room cabin next to our home. He died in 1957.

We moved into Dunn Center from the farm in 1950 as my father’s health was failing from a heart condition. I was five years old at the time. Our home was just a few hundred feet from grandpa’s cabin. His cabin was very old (one room) and had tar paper on the outside for insulation. He had a bed on one side of the room and a small table and chair on the other side of the room (No running water and no electricity). A pail for water and a wash basin for washing was his running water and an oil lamp was his electricity! He had an outdoor biffy as many of us had at that time!

My father, Gonvald, and grandpa were very good friends. Grandpa Christ was at our house very often to have meals with us. After dad died in 1953, Grandpa Christ was like a second father to me. He was a very quiet and soft spoken, kind man. We would grow a large garden and he would help my mother weeding and tending the garden. I remember that he carried a salt shaken in his pants pocket. He would dig up onions, radishes, and turnips, wipe the dirt off of them, add salt, and eat them raw! I would get to eat them with him-that was fun! I would often visit him as he had store bought Oreo cookies with vanilla filling in them for a treat for me. He would often be listening to a talk show program on his radio (battery operated) when I visited him. He would tell me to be quiet and give me the cookies to keep me quiet! I remembered that he liked his coffee very hot. He would then pour the coffee in a saucer to cool it off and then sip it when he drank it.!! My mother didn’t like the sipping sound, but respected her father too much to say so. (He also liked cream in his coffee-so do I!). My mother and he would talk in Norwegian very often when they didn’t want me to know what they were talking about. Grandpa Christ never owned a car. He rode a horse or walked many miles to get to his destination point. He would walk from Werner to our farm (about 10 miles) many times.

I was fornatute to have one living grandparent for a short time in my childhood, my other grandparents on my father’s side of the family died before I was born. Grandparents are special and very important for grandchildren. They pass down family history, care for, teach and encourage grandchildren! We (grandparents) need to step up to the plate and do our part in raising our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are the historians for them. Our heritage will be lost if we don’t pass it on. We share the past to forge the future!

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