by Travis Eklund

Grandpa and Grandma were sitting on the deck, enjoying the warm afternoon sun and sharing a glass of Grandpa’s ‘special’ lemonade.  They waved at the beat-up truck that pulled into the yard.

The truck stopped and the passenger door flew open.  “Grandma!  Grandpa!” exclaimed a little boy as he climbed out.  A smiling young rancher stepped around from the driver’s side and followed his young son into the yard of the old house.

Grandpa pulled up a couple more chairs.  Grandma stepped into the kitchen for another glass of ‘special’ lemonade for the young rancher, and a glass of regular lemonade with a cookie for the little boy.

After a few minutes of visiting the little boy turned and asked “Grandpa, when you go to heaven what will you miss the most?”

Grandpa laughed and smiled at his grandson.  “I’ll miss the creaking” he said.

“I’ll miss the creaking of saddle leather first thing on a spring morning.  There are few things better than being on a horse at sunrise.  The world is so calm and still when you ride out, all you can hear is the hoof-steps rustling the grass and the creak of the saddle underneath you.”

“I’ll miss the creaking of the snow under-foot on a cold winter day.  We’ve had some hard winters here but we always got through them.  Those cold days make you appreciate spring when it finally comes around.”

“I’ll miss the creaking of the old wooden gates in the corrals when we were working cows.  Those old gates had just the right amount of rust in the hinges.  They were easy to swing open and the rust kept them from swinging shut on their own.”

“I’ll miss the creaking of the barn door.  That barn was almost a hundred years old when I was running this outfit.  It has seen countless good horses and better men pass through its doors.  With some care that old barn will still be standing when you take over this ranch.”

“I’ll miss the creak of the door on the ranch truck.  It reminds me of the good cow dogs who have called this ranch home.  Their favorite place in the world was lying on the floor of that old truck while we drove around the ranch.  Make sure you have a good cow dog.  They are fine companions and invaluable when you’re moving cattle.”

“I’ll miss the creak of the tractor seat during harvest.  Driving that tractor all summer was hot, dusty work but it was worth it.  At the end of the summer I would look at all the bales and know that I did a good job, our cows would have enough feed for another winter.  The wildlife kept me company.  Every evening the deer would come out in the evenings to graze on the edge of the hay field.  The birds and the coyotes would follow me around the field, chasing mice that the tractor scared out from under the swaths. “

Grandpa smiled and added, “But I sure won’t miss the mole hills!”

“I’ll miss the creaking of the rocking chair. I’ll never forget when your Dad was born.  Your Grandma would sit in that chair for hours, rocking your Dad back and forth.  We gave that chair to your Mom and Dad when you were born.  There is a lot of love in that old chair.”

“I’ll miss the creak of the horse trailer door when we loaded horses to go roping.  We worked so hard we didn’t have much time to play.  Going team roping with my Dad, and later my son, was a real treat.  I hope one day you’ll go roping with your Dad like we did years ago.  It’s important to have some fun when you can.”

“I’ll miss the creak of the cork being pulled from a bottle of good whiskey.  It reminds me of winter evenings with the guys, sitting around the fire in the tackroom with a glass of whiskey.  We would tell stories, re-live past wrecks and come up with solutions to most of the world’s problems.  The tackroom was a special place.  Everyone who sat there earned their place around the fire.”

“I’ll miss the creak of the screen door on this old house.  That sound meant friends or family were here for a visit.  It meant that our kids, and later our grandkids, were coming in from playing in the yard.  It meant that your Grandma was bringing out cold drink and warm cookies for the crew after a long day.  A lot of wonderful things have passed through that screen door.”

“I’ll miss the creak of my joints.”  He laughed.  “This old body has seen some hard miles but there’s a good memory and a good story behind most of those miles.  Even the bad wrecks are looked back on with fondness.”

“I’ll miss the creaking of these old wood chairs when I sit down.”  He reached over and took Grandma’s hand with a smile.  “There is nothing finer than sitting here with your Grandma, watching you and your Dad working around here.  It does my heart good to see you working with your Dad the way him and I worked together.”

Grandma gave Grandpa a playful poke.  “Don’t forget about the creak of the freezer door!” she said with a smile.  “I always knew when your Grandpa was sneaking a cookie from the Christmas baking.  He tried to be quiet but that freezer door gave him away every time.  I always made sure to bake extra at Christmas time so there was enough left over for company!”  Grandpa and Grandma laughed.

Grandpa looked at his grandson with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
“And a long time from now, when I get to heaven, I’m going to find my Dad and my Grandpa.  We’ll put on our hats, we’ll put on our boots, and we’ll go find something that creaks.”