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The Dengler Domain: My Hero – Grandpa Dengler

December 29, 2017
Sean Dengler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

My grandpa, Vernon Dengler, is my hero. He might have been seventy years older than me, but in our time together he taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I could never thank him enough for that. He had the three things everyone should strive for: heart, humor, and humility. I have never met a person with as big of heart as Grandpa. He saw the good in people, and considered everyone a friend. He truly cared about the happiness of every human being. Grandpa loved the Traer and Dysart community. He grew up and lived here his entire life, so he knew just about everyone. Grandpa was truly happy here, and never wanted to move. He loved these communities with his whole heart.

Grandpa also had a great sense of humor to put a new friend at ease. He could make anyone laugh with his jokes. He was never afraid to make fun of himself in order to make others feel better. This was part of Grandpa's great sense of humility. My hero always helped others out. Grandpa made sure he worked for the greater good. He made everyone feel important.

Besides his heart, humor, and humility, Grandpa had his loves.

Grandpa loved his farm. My dad told me Grandpa was said to be one of the straightest planters in his heyday, back before GPS. I may have no way of proving this claim, but after seeing his passion for his farm over the years there's no doubt in my mind that he would have held this title. While I was growing up Grandpa was in semi-retirement from farming. Although he didn't hop in the tractor every day, any time Grandpa saw dad he made sure to ask him how the crops were looking. Grandpa also knew where just about every single clay tile was in his fields, and not by using a map, but by memory. One of my earliest memories with him was him driving the baler while my brother and I helped dad load bales on the hay rack. While this job is not the most exciting one, he still loved it and always did it to the best of his ability. After Grandpa fully retired from farming, he still found a way to help out. Whether it was dropping my dad off in fields, or helping transport equipment, he was always eager to assist. He never missed a chance to do what he loved. Grandpa would have lived at the farm forever if he could have. In the nursing home, we could all tell Grandpa longed for the place he loved most, his farm.

The one thing he loved more than his farm was his family. Grandpa loved his wife, my grandma, Mildred, for over seventy years. In the later years, I saw some of their cute disagreements, and Grandpa was usually being stubborn because grandma was right about 100% of the time. Besides rare disagreements, I have never seen two people more content and happy to be with each other. In addition to loving his wife, Grandpa loved his children, Mark and Marsha. He was always there for them and enjoyed spending time with them. He loved anyone who entered his life. I don't know how true television shows and films are, but they make you believe your in-laws are the worst. This was not true with Grandpa. My mom, Sandy, always talked glowingly of my hero. He made sure she felt just as loved as Mark and Marsha.

Lastly, Grandpa loved his grandchildren. He loved us with his whole heart. Every time we came to visit his face would light up and he would tell us how happy he was that we were there. He even had two great grandchildren he was able to meet. There's a picture of Grandpa holding one of his great grandchildren, Hayes. In the photo you could see the love he has for this little guy. He was so proud. That's the same way Grandpa made us feel every time we saw him.

One of my favorite memories is eating pizza with Grandpa every Sunday when I was home. Whether it was going to Godfather's or just eating Casey's or the Pizza Palace at his place, it was always the best time. While Rachel, Derrick, and I moved to different places after college, Grandpa and Grandma never slipped our minds. Until the nursing home, we all would try to Skype or call to talk with them every Sunday night. I know he appreciated it more than ever, and every single day I will miss having these talks with him.

Grandpa loved me very much. His actions showed it. I always left Grandpa's presence happy. He was very nice and sweet, and my hero comforted me in times of need. I had a difficult time when my Grandma Pohlman died. I still remember Grandpa comforting me with his kind and loving words. I do not remember what exactly they were, but they made feel like everything was going to be alright. He always had that effect on me.

After I graduated high school, whenever I would come home and visit, Grandpa was so happy to see me. With just a few simple words he made me feel welcomed and loved. Whenever I left, he always said "I hope you come back soon". This was the cutest, and the hardest part of leaving my hero. Spending any time with him made me happy. I will never forget - on the day before Grandpa fell and the nursing home became his permanent residence, I called Grandpa as I left work, like I often did, just to say hello. That day the most kind-hearted, funny, and all around great person told me, "I love you." I always felt Grandpa's love, but hearing the words filled my heart even fuller.

He's the best, and I love my biggest hero. If I could be half of who he was, I would be living life the right way. The last thing I have to say is Grandpa, as most of you probably know, was the biggest Chicago Cubs fan. Last year one of Grandpa's wildest dreams came true. The Cubs won the World Series. Calling him moments after the Cubs won was a moment I never thought Grandpa and I would share. It was amazing. To this day I am happier for my grandpa getting to experience that moment, more than the actual win itself. Hearing his joy firsthand is something I will always cherish.

Grandpa lived such a long wonderful life, and touched so many different people. I'm forever grateful to have known my grandpa and have been so close with him. At ninety-five years young, my hero lived much longer than the average human. I always felt lucky to go extra innings with him. Rest in peace, Grandpa. I love you.

 
 

 

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