To Dennis, From Dennis

My two Dennises

Nearly 13 years ago, my husband and I named our first born son after my husband’s father. As my husband’s Uncle Vaughn said, “there is a lot of honor in that name.”

Last week, my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer. Daniél and Lindsay graciously offered me space on the blog to write a memorial to him. So I wrote one. And then after the funeral yesterday, all of my children came home and wrote their own messages about their grandfather. I’ve shelved my memorial for the time and will allow my oldest son to speak instead.

To Dennis, from his namesake.

Dennis Bingham Hacking the 1st. Father, brother, grandfather, husband, friends. He had many titles. He was a great man.

I remember the times he would tell me stories of my ancestors. It was the middle of the day. Bedstemor took me and Grandpa for a hair cut and she dropped us off at Carolyn’s Barber Shop. She had to go to the store so she just left me and Grandpa there. Now, I was at the fence at first but I went through it anyway. So Grandpa and I got our hair cut and we decided to walk home so we called Bedstemor and told her we would walk home.

On the way we started talking and I asked him to tell me one of his dreams and he said he has all he could ask for. A great family, the Lord looking on his back and a handsome young boy carrying his name (I was young so I thought it was kind of weird). We got home and he asked me to get the mail so I did. When I got to the porch, I saw him sitting on the little bench that was on the porch. I asked him what’s wrong. He looked up, a smile on his face, and said, “the door’s locked.” We then tried the back. Locked.

We sat down on the chairs in the back and he started telling me about how our ancestors had great adventures (I didn’t believe a lot of them but I was young). He told me the time one of them saved a little girl from drowning in the lake and the time one of them got captured by Indians. Then he got to the time I was little and we would march around the house singing “hup 234, hup 234.” I was young so I could not say stuff that well but I would say “mush! mush! mush!” He told me the time when he found out that my parents named me after him and he wouldn’t let me go.

A couple of years later, he told me times of his life when he was a scout and when he worked on the ranch like the time when his mom was outside and saw a car speed by. His mom called the police to go out on a watch for any speeders and pull them over. The next Sunday, she was late for church and she was going a little faster than the limit and she was then pulled over. Then she learned that the police just started their patrols. I was still young and didn’t believe that. Then a couple more years passed and he was ill and yet he still told me stories about him and Bedstemor. As one of their dates, they went to a cliff and it was dark and Grandpa left her there to get some firewood. That’s sadly all I can remember. It was a long time ago.

I never knew why he would tell me those stories. Today, I found out that it was one of his titles: storyteller. Today, I sat as those memories went through my head and I remembered that family isn’t what blood you carry, it’s who you love and who loves you.

It’s hard to let go but I knew Grandpa was ready for this. The way I know this is last year, I was sad and it was 11pm. I got out of bed and went to Dad, who was working. I asked what will happen when Grandpa dies. He said stuff to me that I don’t remember, but I do remember that Grandpa told Dad that he had a vision that when he dies, he would go to heaven and his father would open a door. There will be all of the Hackings. And his dad will tell him his stories and then his grandfather would tell him his stories until all of them speak. Then they will sit on a big long table and his dad would say, “so, what have you done with the Hacking name?” I pondered that though wondering what Grandpa would say. Today, I did not think of that. When I went up to him, I said a small prayer and said, “good luck explaining your wonderful life.” Today, I know what he meant when he said he had all of his dreams already. I’m glad I was one of them and he is one of mine.

Rest in peace, Dennis. Lars and I, along with little Dennis, will make sure all of your grandchildren know your stories.


11 thoughts on “To Dennis, From Dennis

  1. How beautiful, and how sad. What a wonderful way with words your son Dennis has – that an an amazing family bond between all the generations. You can be really proud of that, and them! Internet hugs from a stranger for you all – it’s a hard time, but can be a very healing, growing time as a family. Thank you for the lovely memorial.

  2. Dennis is such a sweet boy. He’s so lucky to have had a grandpa like that in his life, and it sounds like big Dennis was lucky to have him, too. Sending love and warm wishes for your family.


  3. Aw, that was beautiful! How wonderful that they were able to express themselves in such a way and share with you! I love the tradition of stories being handed down through the years and what wonderful memories they make… -Lindsay

  4. I never met Lars’ dad, but through stories and seeing the love your family has for him, I feel like I know him a little. That’s what stories do. Little Dennis (who’s not so little anymore) is carrying on that tradition, as well as many others that seem to be attached to Big Dennis’ legacy–love of and devotion to family being high on that list. Dennis the First is proud, no doubt, of all his amazing grandkids. It’s so wonderful that they have memories of such an incredible grandfather to carry them forward.

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