My father, Grant Neil Sarver, Jr., died yesterday.
I'm finding myself mulling over these memorials, RIP Grant Sarver at I Forge Iron and Grant Sarver - RIP at The Northwest Blacksmith Association.
Perhaps down the line when I'm trying to express that Pop was brilliant at what he did, I can point to these and people will feel a little less generous in the way they allow my assertion. I guess this is as good a time as any to say, my relationship with my father was troubled, and such that I don't go out of my way to exaggerate his strengths. It was nonetheless not one in which I felt unnecessarily inclined toward diminishing them either.
I also sat and watched this video:
There are other videos up at the NakedAnvil YouTube Channel. Some of them feature more footage of him instead of his buddy Jack Slack, but somehow his personality comes through in the content and narration of the Junk Yard Hammer video the best, especially in his cameo smile at 8:20.
It also feels perfect that the description says, "We brought it to the Ashville NC ABANA Conference and at the end sold it to the first guy with $100.00!"
I watch these knowing that so much of my childhood was spent in one shop or another, waiting for him to finish up his boring blacksmithing, or waiting at the fair or some other fun outing when he'd stop and chat for what seemed like forever with whoever was demonstrating blacksmithing, making little metal crafts for sale or whatever.
Since becoming a father myself, I've put a lot of thought into the things he did right.
He gave great big hugs. He was fun. I think back at all of the places we used to go as a family. We didn't always have money, so we didn't always go extravagant places, but we'd go on trips to the big library in downtown Seattle or to the piers to look at boats or whatever.
Most of anything, I remember him reading to me. I remember him having near infinite patience for laying with me and reading stories. He'd do voices and they were funny and clearly delineated and consistent. And he'd still lay there with me as I went to sleep, protecting me from monsters and such.
He worked hard. My parents sent me to private schools most of life, for reasons that were certainly more important to my mother, or more in keeping with her beliefs or her assessment of my needs, but he worked hard and sacrificed to make it happen, because he believed in her and in me.
I never really got a chance to tell him that. I imagined, as one too often does, I'd get back home and Conan would meet him and I'd tell him that face to face. He never met my son, and I never told him how many of the things he did meant to me. The last we ever had was our awkward detente, in which he knew I was frustrated with so much of what he'd done in the last many years, but I don't think he really understood why.
I had long ago stopped trying to make him understand. Sometimes people are just two different people, and they see the world differently. In the last year, I was slowly, finally, coming to some peace with that. I really was.
While I did not continue the naming tradition and name my son Grant Neil Sarver IV, I think my son's name reflects more of what I got from him than I would have thought in thinking of it.
He'd diligently check each time he stopped at a convenience store for coffee, and check the magazines for a new edition of the Savage Sword of Conan, although I think both of my parents had some reservations about my interest in them, especially when I started my own terrible brand of pastiches with too much wenching and decapitation... Yes, the very things that would make me and my fellow Robert E. Howard fans go crazy in professionals, but I'd hope most of them would have a little more sympathy for them as the efforts of a 10-year-old.
He took me to see Conan the Barbarian when I was 11. We both had a great time. He was already prepared to become a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, although I'm not sure why. It may be related to his pleasure in the movie The Villain.
Yeah, my father was many things, but a man of high tastes was never one of them. When I went through my college age quest through the great works of cinema (as well as literature, to a lesser degree), he mostly humored me, and kept taking me to crappy movies, which I suppose I ruined for him, to some extent, with my criticisms.
We did also see Conan the Destroyer at the drive-in. It's the only memory I have of seeing a movie at the drive-in with just Pop. I suspect it is unique in that.
Last night, I sat trying to find something to watch. It should be no surprise that's how I cope.
I considered Highlander. We went to that together. But then I wasn't sure if it wasn't too soon for me with such a pro-mortality movie. Mind you, I think that's a great message, but that doesn't mean I felt like dealing with it.
I started Thunderball, too. I didn't see this with him, that I specifically recollect, but he was very excited when my friend and I went to see this in a theater. He was a huge Sean Connery fan, and a strict Connery partisan in the Connery vs. Roger Moore days, although, as I recall, he did warm up to some of the later Bonds... such was our life that we never discussed my birthday-mate Daniel Craig.
I ended up going with Airplane! as it required so very little from me, and I know he would approve.
Right now, more than anything, I wish I was home to see the rest of my family. Being my father's son, I've not always done all I should to stay in touch, and that's been even harder now that I'm far away. I've missed them all very much in recent days, and now it's just unbearable.
I'm going for the weekend now, and it's all I can think about.
UPDATE: I just wanted to thank user Brasilikilt, who made this post. I can promise you that "I haven't died, I simply stopped using my Peter Wright." is exactly what Pop would say right now, if he could.
Yes, even if there were no other blacksmiths around to get the joke.
UPDATE II: I also specifically appreciated these tributes by Ted Throckmorton and Joe Elliott and wanted to ensure they were linked specifically.