There are so many different memories and great experiences I had with my grandpa Gary, especially from the many times he and Grandma Lois visited us in Panama.
From hikes in the rainforest to trips on small "panga" boats at open sea and stays on many of the tropical islands (trust me, not as luxurious as it sounds, yet always fun). Every time they came down I was excited because I knew my parents would plan a guaranteed adventure involving tropical animals in beautiful locations.
As a young girl, I knew my grandpa as a writer and was raised on his stories of helping bears, mountain lions, and other animals not found in the tropics. It made me so curious about Racoons and Foxes! You have to understand, In Panama, we had issues like Iguanas eating mom's flowers, not Deer eating our tomatoes. So I would share my anecdotes about the monkey in my backyard in exchange for his stories about adorable skunks.
I remember when he came to Panama with a copy of "The Raccoon Next Door" I must've been 9 or 10, and Chuck Todd's beautifully vibrant illustration on the cover had fooled me into believing it was a children's book. I was so excited!! The articles grandpa wrote were not targeted towards children, so I couldn't quite enjoy them yet. You can only imagine my disappointment when I opening the book to find HUNDREDS of words per page! I turned to grandpa and said "I can't read this!? you never write things I can read" a few years later grandpa wrote his first children's book "There's an Opossum in My Backyard", which he dedicated to all of his grandkids, and I was ecstatic. Today this is one of three books I can read to my Step-son and children to come.
However, my most prominent memories of grampa are not of things he did, but of things he said. So here is a list of some of my favorites...
-"Why are you afraid of them?! tarantulas are beautiful delicate creatures!"
-"Well, I doubt that we are alone." (after asking him last year if he thought Aliens exist)
-"Respect them [animals] and they might respect you back"
-"Love you too, kiddo"
I am so very blessed to be able to have his personality and his words published in many articles and books. I will never forget grandpa and I feel so incredibly proud of being a branch in his family tree.