As each birthday comes and goes, I am amazed that our grandpa, Walt Hein could have been in Heaven as long as he has. Grandpa was born on May 29, 1906, which means that this is the 117th anniversary of his birth. I so enjoyed spending time with this man on our many trips to Forsyth, Montana over the years. He was so funny and was a ruthless card player. He wasn’t mean…just determined to win. That was similar to my own card playing style, so we invariably played as partners. That left the other two players, one of whom was my husband, Bob and the other who was most often grandma, Vina Hein, to play as partners, and most often lose. Grandma and Bob didn’t really care. They knew that for Grandpa, the win was a big deal, and for them, since it didn’t really matter so much, they decided that it was all in fun anyway.
Our trips weren’t just about cards, however. There were many things to do on the ranch, and sometimes the men would go out and take care of the animals, or sometimes, Grandpa would bring our girls out to the corral and lead them around of one of the horses. They had a blast riding the horses. We lived in the country, but in a much more urban kind of country area…or at least because it was subdivided, the places were smaller, and we didn’t think that our five acres could handle horses and the two cows that we raised. We felt like the beef was more important than riding horses. We also didn’t have chickens, so being around Grandma and Grandpa’s chickens was a fun experience for the. I’m not sure what the chickens thought about it, when my girls began chasing them the first time, but I know they didn’t hate that, because they would often stop and look back to see if the girls were still coming, and when they saw that they were, the chickens were off again. I think they got a kick out of it. Grandpa also had a bathtub in the yard…long before that was a thing. When the summer days got hot, Grandpa would fill that tub with water, and the girls got to go “swimming” in that tub. They had a great time, and all of these things really endeared Grandpa to them. It was that Grandpa’s heart. They were always ready to go to Forsyth to visit the family.
When I think about the fact that, if he were still alive, Grandpa would have been 117 years old, I am rather stunned. It’s so strange to think that I could have known someone who is now 117 years old. I shouldn’t be surprised, because that statement applies to all of my grandparents, and one would have been even older…one 144 years old. I suppose that as we grow older, having known people from our childhood, it will become more common to know people who are almost 200 years old. Nevertheless, it will probably never cease to amaze me. Today is the 117th anniversary of Grandpa Walt Hein’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. We love and miss you very much.