I didn’t spend much time with my Grandpa Muir but it was always fun to see him. One of my earliest memories is going down to the local creek to do some fishing in his hometown Adrian, North Dakota. The last time I saw him was in 1986 when I was driving through the Tampa, Florida area. We talked for a couple of hours and it is one of my most memorable conversations I’ve ever had. He took the time to remember his life and passed onto me a story about his father.
I will not be able to recall it accurately but I’ll try. Many years ago, in the nineteen twenties, Grandpa’s father was a farmer. He had a pocket watch that he treasured but one day he lost it while out in the fields. He looked for it but couldn’t find it regardless of how hard he tried. Grandpa had told me that he always had it tied to his clothes but somehow had managed to drop it anyways.
Several years later, a neighbor, by chance, located the pocket watch and returned it to my great grandfather. It was somewhere between five and ten years between being lost and being found. Surprisingly, the watch still worked and was in fairly good condition.
Grandpa Muir inherited the watch and to him it meant more than just a watch. To him, it was a memory of his father and that which a father passes on to his son. In this honor, he passed the watch to me that night. At this point, his son, my father, was a bit wayward. In fact, it became clear that night that Grandpa Muir was hoping that I would continue this branch of the Muir name since the other Muir males were unlikely to have children. It was a simple wish of a man that knew that he would not be in this world for much longer.
I still have the watch safely tucked away. I will keep it until it is time to pass onto my son. I will tell him this story and let him know how special he is and that my Grandpa wished he would arrive. It is a simple tradition that I hope will continue as long as our family will remember where the watch came from.
Recently I found a small summary of my Grandfather written by another family member I will not disclose:
Donald Glen Muir was born in Dean Township, December 31, 1911, to parents Gale and Bessie Muir, on a farm five miles south of LaMoure, North Dakota. Don moved into LaMoure with his parents and two sisters in 1913 where he received all of his education and graduated from the local High School in 1929. He attended Wahpeton State Science School, worked with his father in construction, then joined the CCC’s in 1933. On May 28, 1935 he married Vivian Lois Lancaster. He received an appointment of assistant postmaster in LaMoure and then transferred to Adrian, North Dakota as a rural mail carrier, where he spent the rest of his working career. After retirement, Don and Vivian traveled around the country in their fifth wheeler until full retirement in Florida. Vivian died in 1986 and Don died May 21, 1988.
My grandparents visited us a few times in Illinois before the divorce in their fifth wheeler. The fifth wheeler was really a pickup truck hooked up to a massive mobile home. It seems that they traveled around this way for years. I have a memory of them parking next to our circular driveway and watching a small black and white TV that was playing the Lone Ranger. This was pretty high tech for 1974 or so.
The last visit with Grandpa was so memorable since he told me things that are only visible at the end of your long life. He missed his friends and family that had already died. He felt lonely and basically understood that his time was drawing to an end. It was the first time I had ever seen this affect someone and seeing it affected how I looked at these kind of things as well.
He was a very kind man. Both of my grandfathers were great men and in that way I was very lucky. I wish I could have spent more time with him but I also appreciate the time that we had. Sometimes it seems like he still looking over my shoulder and trying to shield me from the more troublesome problems that life throws at you. I miss him.