Friday, June 24, 2016


My Bockum- September 16th, 1924- June 24th, 2016

I have one grandfather and he was amazing. To call him my grandfather sounds a bit funny to my ear because as most people know, he was my Bockum- a nickname I chose for him before I even have memories. He was very special. As Adalyn said today when I told her that he had passed- "Life will never be the same without him."

Bockum loved his family. He had a powerful testimony of his savior Jesus Christ and of the gospel. He was fiercely stubborn. He was proud of his legs. He even passed away in his favorite white bermuda shorts. He made excellent fudge and peanut brittle. He loved to dance. He got pedicures in his later years and even got his toenails painted. He loved Dr. Pepper. He asked me to make sure that there is a top hat and tap shoes on his casket. He was always happy to see me. He always made me feel loved. He sent us Two Dollar Bills in the mail. He got them in bulk from the bank. He touched the lives of countless people and I was so lucky to have him for the last 33 years as my Bockum. Of all of his accomplishments, Bockum was most proud of his family. He was father of three, grandfather (Bockum) of ten, great grandfather of nine and husband to his one and only. 

Family photo -Thanksgiving, 2009
50th wedding anniversary party- July, 2002 (I am wearing Grandma's wedding dress.)
December, 2015
My grandparents have been married for sixty-four years. Once a few years ago, my grandmother told me that they had been married for so long that they didn't know how to walk without each other. Neither of them used a cane or a walker because they would just lean together and walk. She said that if she had to go to the store without him she wouldn't know how to walk anymore. They really love each other. I was at their fiftieth anniversary party and remember the touching way that Bockum stood up and told everyone about their engagement and how my grandmother had "melted his cold cold heart." Their love has made me want to recreate that in my own life.
Their wedding day July 31st, 1952

Bockum was always involved in something. He loved to be a part of things. It started early on. He was a cheerleader, student counsel leader and editor of the school paper in high school. He made friends every where that he went and he was very involved with his community and friends throughout his life. From his days as a missionary, a bank trust officer who gave temple square tours on his lunch hour, an involved bishop of his ward, a temple worker, to being a member of dance groups, Book of Mormon study groups, pageant judging, walking groups, sunning himself and "solving the world's problems" every morning with his friend Ralph and getting involved with civic responsibilities and making sure people got out to vote. Bockum never suffered for a lack of activities, friends and hobbies. When I helped him write his life history, I was stunned by the massive number of projects and groups he had been involved with and with the vibrancy with which he remembered all of the people he had met and worked with. He filled his 92 years on this earth well.

What I know best about Bockum, is what it was like to be his granddaughter. He rollerskated and tapped danced with me. He took me on my first date to a fancy restaurant, brought me flowers, opened every door and gave me some advice to make sure that I knew how a lady should be treated. Today, before I even know that this was his last day, I put on the locket that he gave me for my 16th birthday. It is engraved with my name and the date. Bockum came to all of my performances and activities growing up.  He came to as many of my children's activities as he could for as long as he could and then he spent time snuggled up with them reading to him and chatting away at him. 

Bockum kept me in constant supply of Avon Bubble bath and every flavor of Avon chapstick ever made. When I went to his house as a kid he always had something special set aside for me and would slip me the Avon chapstick of the month, tiny sample bottles of perfume, homemade candy, Barbie Dolls (I had a pretty epic collection sponsored almost entirely by Bockum), bags of wintergreen lifesavers and goldfish crackers. As an adult he even mailed me bags of lifesavers at college, made sure I had a steady supply of pomegranate jelly and knitted hats for my kids. If you somehow missed ever getting a jar of his epic homemade pomegranate jelly, it is truly a loss. He even had custom made labels I designed for him.

Bockum made me a lifetime supply of mashed potatoes or "Bockum potatoes" as they are known in my family and he never stopped being mystified that I don't like gravy. Why ruin those beautiful potatoes with distraction? He was a wonderful cook and he even made me, my highschool friends and all of our dates a huge multi-course dinner before one of our high school dances because I was proud of his cooking. 

Bockum and Grandma let me have sleepovers at their house and he would take me on rides in his old white convertible that didn't have seatbelts and had pillows in the back. I tape recorded his snoring because he always said he didn't snore and I wanted to prove that it reached epic decibels. In reality I found his snoring comforting, I always knew he was just in the next room and felt protected like there was a noisy dragon in the house ready breathe fire if necessary. Bockum would let me plunder the house searching for his secret stashes of candy and snoop in his top drawer where he kept his handkerchiefs. He let me mess with the little blue flashlight he kept in his bedside table to shine on his watch in the middle of the night.

We would pick apricots, cherries and rhubarb. Bockum would let me help him bake bread in the morning. If Grandma went out, we would watch his Soap, Days of Our Lives, together. I still vividly remember some of the "highly informative" things I learned from Days of Our Lives like what to do if you wander out of the bathroom in your towel and accidentally fall off of a cliff with your worst enemy who was also wandering about in a towel. He also let me watch Dallas with him a few times and when I showed him how to watch the remake of Dallas online a few years ago, he was ecstatic. He would always tickle my feet while we talked or watched something together. Bockum is responsible for my love of the movie "Singing In The Rain" and we watched it together last month. His feet were tapping the whole time. 

Bockum always danced with me from the early years of dressing up in my Grandma's square dancing petticoats, to helping me practice for my contra dance class in highschool to my wedding. He knew that I should marry Scott before I knew that I should marry him. Bockum knew before I had even dated Scott. Bockum said he was "most impressed with Scott's hairy legs." He'd never seen such hairy legs. High praise?

Bockum helped me (or possibly instigated) campaign to get my ears pierced for years. The second that my Dad finally said he just didn't care anymore, I was on the phone with Bockum. (Not exactly permission but close enough right?) Grandma and Bockum took me to the mall and fast as possible to get my ears pierced. He also took my oldest daughter to get her ears pierced. He loved Beauty Queens and pageants though he was NOT especially impressed with some of the more modern day pageants. He would take me shopping at ZCMI. 

I went on trips to Parowan to visit Bockum's parents with just my grandparents. I would get the whole back seat to myself and we would stay in the Motel 6. Most of my best memories of my great grandparents are because Bockum took me with him to Parowan. Grandma and Bockum also had a timeshare at a condo in Snowbird and I have an image of me and my brothers sharing one murphy bed with my grandparents in a murphy bed about two feet away telling us to stop giggling all night.

Bockum would take sheets to put inside his sleeping bag when we went camping and when the whole family went to Cherry Hill (waterpark/campground.) He made awesome dutch oven recipes. I wish I had inherited a bit of his cooking skill. When he babysat us overnight with Grandma, he would sneak upstairs during breakfast to make our beds for us complete with hospital corners. Even if your bed was made, he would fix it for you. He is the one who showed me how to do hospital corners and have the pillows properly fluffed and tucked in. When I brought my family to stay with him these last few years in St. George he was always up early waiting for my kids to wake up and he would tuck them into bed with he and Grandma at night when they were all tired so that they could watch old shows together. These two girls love their great grandfather very much. He cultivated a special relationship with them and they really got to know him well these last few years. I doubt there are many children who have gotten to know and love their great grandpa like that.

I got advice from Bockum when my husband and I decided to adopt and I peppered him with questions like when he knew that his children were definitely his. He told me about holding each of his children for the first time and the immediate love that he felt for each one. He was so right, I felt that same feeling the first time I saw my daughter. She was exactly what I knew she would look like, as if we already knew each other. Bockum loved being a Dad and a grandfather and he gave me insightful advice and encouragement when I was struggling to bring kids into my family. The first time he met Asia and became a great grandfather, he was so excited to come over he was actually shaking.

When I was pregnant great grandchild #2, Bockum fasted a prayed that she would be born on his birthday. He got his wish. We made them both eat smash cakes with no cutlery on her 1st birthday and his 86th and gave them matching bibs. He was a good sport and he really loved a party. He loved being a grandfather and great grandfather. 

90 & 5
86 & 1
He always wanted to know what I was interested in, even when I was little. There was a never a time that  talked to him on the phone that he didn't want to know exactly what I had been doing lately and what all of my latest interests were. When I was three years old, I was obsessed with Carebears and he had a whole set of the stuffed bears made for me by a friend. I still remember being excited when I got them for birthdays, Christmas etc. I still have grumpy bear. The bear is purple because I liked purple better than blue. Bockum also loved purple. And Christmas trees. He was very proud of his purple Christmas tree the last few years. 
November ,1984
Christmas, 2014

Bockum and Grandma served a mission together in Nauvoo, Illinois when I was in the sixth grade. I believe it was one of the highlights of his life. My family was able to visit them on their mission and watch them in a play they performed in. I swear that there wasn't a single thing happening in Nauvoo that they weren't somehow participating in or involved with in some way. I remember that feeling of seeing them as people other than grandparents for the first time. He really loved the gospel. He studied the scriptures throughout his whole life and he made sure that each grandchild received a set of scriptures for their eighth birthday. He was not well enough to travel for my daughter's baptism last November so he made sure to have a set of scriptures delivered.

We loved to tease Bockum about water. Water was never his favorite environment but somehow some of my favorite memories of him involve being on the water- a trip to Lake Powell in 1988 where I repeatedly tried to coax him into the water and tried to help he and Grandma wash their hair in the lake. (Washing their hair involved a lot of yelling and splashing.) My brothers and I laugh about a boat outing for his 60th anniversary with Grandma when we tried to get him to float on the lake. There was a lot of yelling and splashing then as well. He put on his swimsuit to get in the pool up at Snowbird a few years ago (he mostly on the stairs) to swim with my little girls and prove he was a really cool great grandpa. I loved the fact that he tried scuba diving in our dive shop pool while he was in his eighties even though water scared him.

60th wedding anniversary- July, 2012
September, 2012
Lake Powell, 1988

Bockum with the halo brace he wore for a year- 2002.
The first time I thought that we were going to lose Bockum was during what Bockum called "the greatest test of his faith in Jesus Christ" which came in October, 2001, when he fell from a short ladder while cleaning his mobile home in St. George. His neck was broken (lacerated, but not separated) in two places—the lst and 2nd vertebrae. Christmas that year was very special for the family. We got to bring him home for a couple of hours and we didn't know if it would be our last Christmas together. He spent a year in the hospital during which he showed incredible perseverance for which I believe he was rewarded with another 15 years with his family and the opportunity to know his great grandchildren. Every year has been a gift to his family.

Bockum had a big, full life. I was lucky to be a part of it. This is devastating. I don't know quite what life looks like without him with us. I'm lucky to know that I will see him again someday.Until then Bockum, I will hold you close in my heart.


Gwen said...

This is truly amazing. It needs to be published and given out next week!!

Lisa said...

That is a beautiful tribute! What an amazing man!

Uncle Henry said...

One Fish, I have never read a tribute such as this. I feel like I have just finished reading a book I didn't want to end. Your Bochum is one of the most amazing people I have ever met--even though I never met him in person, you have told his life story so well I feel as though I knew him too. What a beautiful man.
I'm so sorry your family will be parted from him for awhile. But I'm also glad you know he will be tickling your feet and giving you Avon perfume again. Thank you for sharing his story with the rest of us. Millicent

Uncle Henry said...

One Fish, I have never read a tribute such as this. I feel like I have just finished reading a book I didn't want to end. Your Bochum is one of the most amazing people I have ever met--even though I never met him in person, you have told his life story so well I feel as though I knew him too. What a beautiful man.
I'm so sorry your family will be parted from him for awhile. But I'm also glad you know he will be tickling your feet and giving you Avon perfume again. Thank you for sharing his story with the rest of us. Millicent

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