Wendel Godfrey, 1909-2007

Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my grandpa and grandma on their farm in Cornish, Utah. My dad tells stories about thinning sugar beets, but my memories revolve around alfalfa and cows. I liked watching Grandpa and Dad herd the confused and recalcitrant cows into the milking area. The milkers were strange looking contraptions with rubber tubes that attached to the udders then squeezed rhythmically as the milk fell into the metal container below. Grandpa would then pour the fresh milk into a large vat in which the milk swirled around, stirred by a metal paddle. Every so often, he'd give us a ladle of milk fresh from the vat . . . or we'd drink the creamy milk as we ate my grandmother's banana nut bread. Grandpa, dressed in his pinstriped overalls, was also an expert at "pitching kanuch," at least I think that's what he called shoveling up the cow's excrement. He was a small man but a hard worker.

In later years, I watched my grandfather at my grandmother's side as her health failed due to Alzheimer's. Grandpa sold the farm and moved into Logan, so he could visit her each day at Sunshine Terrace. I remember how lovingly he interacted with his wife, whom he had known since childhood, even though she no longer recognized him. Still, the residue of their love must have left some trace, as Grandma responded to him so positively. At times, Grandpa missed her so much that he would silently weep as he sat beside her bed. I suppose these images will always typify love for me.

After grandma passed away, my grandfather spent a number of years living on his own in his little house in Logan, Utah. When I was in town, it was always enjoyable to visit him and hear his stories--Godfreys are great story tellers and laughers. My grandfather's gentle kindness always characterized our interactions.

More recently, he'd been living in an assisted living center. Every so often, I'd go to the center to eat lunch with him. He had a table full of friends that he liked to eat with . . . but when I visited, he'd forego that pleasure to sit with my parents and I. More regularly, we would visit him in his room and tell stories. I'd ask him about farming and he'd describe tractors and hard work. He'd tell stories about his youth, the depression, the childhood of my father, and his career as the school bus driver in Cache County. He'd offer me the chocolate that he could no longer eat because of diabetes.

My grandfather's life was full of simple pleasures and joys: pride in his children, the satisfaction of work well done, the love that he felt for his family and friends, the faith that was such an important part of his identity. My life is richer for having loved and been loved by him.

5 thoughts on “Wendel Godfrey, 1909-2007

  1. semi-gloss lacquer

    ...the people who we come from, the ones who created the people who we come from, are so important.

    You can see the beauty and the character (as well as the solid honest and moral base,) of your grandfather
    in you,
    sort of like being able to see the bed of a river when you're floating along face down watching it go beautifully beneath you.

    My prayers are with you and your family.

    -Eric

    Reply
  2. Johnnie Wilcox

    The days you spent with your grandfather on the farm sound especially beautiful, and I'm sure you were a blessing in your grandfather's life. He must have really loved you.

    Reply
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