Thanks Grandpa

It’s usually late at night when I sit to write some new blog posting. Usually I cannot think of something to write about. I’m pretty critical of what I write about.

This is really just a start of a topic that I have had great difficulty writing about. I’ve tried before but it is just so hard to find the words to express how it feels.

My grandparents have always meant so much to me. Growing up we would not see them that often but the visits were always fun. Sometimes it would just be me and my sister that would spend part of our summer holidays in Humboldt, Minnesota.

My grandpa is a farmer. His name is Harvey Diamond. I’ve always looked up to him. He always seemed to know the right things to say. When my parents were divorced, he become my role model. He has always been very generous with his kids and grandkids. He loves to talk. He loves to get junk mail with the hope of maybe winning a sweepstakes some day. His passion is his land and his family.

Grandma runs the house. Her name is Helen Diamond. She takes care of all things to keep things going. She has raised six kids and often watches over the grandkids. Grandma always has time for some coffee and a chat. She makes difficult things look easy and can cook for mobs of people in short notice. There is always room for one more. She loves her church and does her best to round up the family to spend the time there too.

I’m writing this as if I wrote it when I was around 20 years younger. Grandpa is now 86 and suffered a stroke in 2003. Grandma is 84 and has recently had a major operation to remove a life threatening growth. Things have obviously changed.

Grandpa and Me - August 1983

Going back in time to 1983, I had just graduated high school and went to Minnesota to spend my summer. Grandpa had big plans to get a computer for the farm. He wanted me to help him set it up and try some forecasting with spreadsheets. Well, he didn’t quite know what the computer did but he had a good idea that it could help him and save time.

He bought an IBM PC even though I thought he should get an Apple. I had not yet seen the IBM PC (since the high school could not afford them) so this was a new learning experience. The PC seemed more professional than what I was used to but also a bit clunky. He also bought a copy of Lotus 1-2-3. I remember some statistics for this machine. It only had a floppy drive and 160K of memory. Hard drives were only available on the XT.

It didn’t take long to learn the basics of 1-2-3 and I was able to produce spreadsheets that quickly calculated what-if scenarios for the farm. Most of these were related to balancing yield versus fertilizer and herbicide. Grandpa was impressed with the speed. He had me working on depreciation schedules and even a simple balance sheet. It was fun learning about these things and even more fun getting it to work like Grandpa wanted.

I came away from the experience with a really positive outlook on the IBM machines. I had also gained valuable experience that even university would not provide. It was only during my internships at IBM did my skills improve further with the IBM equipment.

For many years I had thought that I had done something good for Grandpa. Unfortunately there was no one else to take over for me when I left. The PC was seldom used but stayed near his desk for years afterwards. Eventually it was given away to a relative.

A few years ago this relative asked if I wanted the PC. My nostalgic nature won and I said yes. The PC is now with my Mom in America.

I was talking with Mom just recently and the topic of Grandpa’s computer came up. Somehow she confessed something that I did not expect. She told me that the only reason that Grandpa bought the computer was because of me. He never let on to this secret. I had thought I was doing something for him when really it was the other way around. It caught me off guard. I felt a bit silly for not having realized it before.

So that means I have something to say…

Thanks Grandpa!

You made so much of a difference in my life and I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.

Till we meet again…


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