Heather Hamilton-Maude: Life’s cheerleaders
June 23, 2017
We all need cheerleaders in life. Those precious people who believe in us no matter what, who are proud of us and confident in our abilities even when we aren't. I've been blessed with a lot more of those people than most, and one that always stands out to me is my Grandpa George.
My grandpa grew up a Colorado farm boy, and forewent college to fight in World War II. He always wished he had gotten his college degree. The farthest thing from what most would consider the cheerleader type, my grandfather is a tall and lean Type A, hard-nosed perfectionist of a man who worked as a miner in Leadville, Colo. in addition to owning several businesses on the side. A gas station, trailer court and excavating business among them. I've met, at most, five people in my life who could keep pace with him day in and out; one is his daughter/ my mom and another is my husband.
But, where most people fell short of his incredibly high standards, I have held the honored position of being his first grandchild. He's been thrilled about me from day one, taking great pride in teaching me to fish and ski; two of his great loves in life. Visiting with me in earnest about whatever was going on in my life at the time, regardless of how much he knew about the subject, and stressing how very proud he was of me for doing well in school, excelling in my extracurricular activities, and working hard in general.
I also possess a few of his character traits, and while to many it is a negative to be too driven, too perfectionistic, too dedicated and hardworking, that has never been the case with grandpa. In a world where so many demean such attributes, he stoked the fire behind them every chance he got.
He and my grandma were at nearly every school play, county fair and major educational event in my younger years, which took dedication on their part considering they lived about six hours away. I thought he would burst with pride on the days I received my high school, associate and bachelor's degrees.
When I started writing, he followed my work tirelessly from day one, despite having almost no firsthand knowledge of many of the agriculture topics I covered. He would complement me whenever we saw each other, and ask me about different people, places or events I had covered. In recent years, he and my grandmother have been in assisted living in Denver, and my mother got him a subscription to Tri-State. After one trip to visit, they reported that he kept each week's paper on the top his pile, and would make his nurses read my work and remind them it was his granddaughter who authored the piece.
Since marrying into hogs, another of his favorite stories to share with me is how his father once made the Denver Post for having the best topped out set of butcher hogs ever delivered to the Denver Stock Yards. He finished them with a homemade pea mash that, "topped them out beautifully."
May everyone be fortunate enough to have someone in their life who is genuinely interested in them and their interests, who insists that laziness is far scarier than failure, and failure isn't option. Someone who teaches that education is something that can never be taken from you, that you should practice until you get it right, in addition to the countless other unique life lessons a true chearleeder instills. Thank you for all these things and more Grandpa George.