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Family ties
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My Grandma and Grandpa Becker were more people of action than words. Not that they didn’t have much to say. They just chose their words well and needed only a few to convey much.
As their oldest grandson, I visited them during the summer when I was growing up in the late ‘50s. I always talked Grandma into letting me sleep in the screened in porch on the east side of their home.
Shaded by tall elm trees on the east side of their home, this was the coolest place to sleep on those warm summer nights before air conditioning. The porch was located right next to my grandparent’s room where I felt safe and slept like a log each and every night.
Their morning activities would  always wake me and  their longest conversations of the day took place over black coffee with bacon and eggs long before I crawled out of my comfortable bed each morning. A large, black Zenith AM radio provided the news and weather of the upcoming day.
I’d just lie there comfortably in my bed soaking up the sounds. I knew Grandma would make me my own special breakfast at a more kid-visiting-his-grandparents hour.
My Grandpa Bert was a tall slender man with kind eyes and a rich baritone voice that invited attention and respect. During those early-morning conversations with Grandma Rose, he spoke with a gentleness that was unlike any other setting.
While I didn’t really think of it back then, I just remember I loved listening to them visit and appreciated how my Grandpa talked to my Grandma like no one else.
Today I understand that what I was listening to were conversations between a woman and a man who had truly become one.
Grandpa always respected and took care of Grandma’s every need. She cheerfully and willingly gave back all that she received.  
My Grandpa Bert was a veteran of World War I, saw action in France. He died nearly 25 years before Grandma Rose. His later years were difficult and he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. I also believe ghosts from those brothers in arms who didn’t return home with him weighed heavy on his soul.
Still, I never heard him complain. Grandma and my mother loved and cared for him when he couldn’t do so for himself.
I have always considered myself a lucky man to have inherited some of the wonderful attributes of the Becker family – cheerfulness, perseverance, a willingness to think and work smart and the ability to enjoy and appreciate others.
Having Becker blood also means you have family and some good friends willing to stand by your side during the best and worst of times. And while your living may be hard-earned – your life will be nothing less than rich.
Happy Veteran’s Day Grandpa Bert.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion