Grandpa still rides shotgun in `Betsy’ |

Grandpa still rides shotgun in `Betsy’

She’s a fine old classic with over 135,000 miles. A few dents and dings, but the 1964 stick shift “straight 6” 292 Chevy engine purrs.

After doing much of the paint striping and wet sanding work, it’s not going to be easy to give her up. But it’s worth the labor of love for you.

Not that you haven’t put your own sweat equity into “fixin’ up” Betsy. You are a very busy teenager. I know you help when you can.

One day I’ll give your hand in marriage to some undeserving geek. For now I’d rather it be Grandpa’s old pickup truck. He intended for you to have “Betsy” when you could drive.

One of my favorite pictures is of you standing next to the old truck when you were 4 years old. The denim hat on cockeyed. Big smile on your face, dressed in your best overalls.

The fact that you cherish the old truck enough to want it as your own makes me proud. It would have made your grandpa even prouder.

As with most things in life, it’s complicated. But I’ll try my best to tell why the old truck is priceless.

To you “miss Shandra” and to me, it stands for a bygone era worth more than mere nostalgia.

It is a direct link to your grandpa no longer with us. It reminds us both of the kind of man he was.

Perry West spent his career as an exploratory geologist searching for new deposits of gold worth developing. He called them “properties.” Any friend he made along the way he called “pard.”

After he retired and moved to Grand Junction with his wife Willie, you were able to be with him often.

While with him on one such occasion, Perry received word that one of his old “pards” had passed away. With tears welling up in his eyes he slowly made his way outside to be alone in his grief.

Willie then told us the story of the crusty old prospector who wouldn’t deal with or trust anyone but Perry, who with a promise sealed by a handshake had closed a huge deal for Perry’s company.

Every time you get into that truck remember to make your word impeccable.

Perry also taught you to not take life so seriously that you forget how to have fun.

Though driving is a very serious job, remember to have fun in Betsy with Grandpa riding shotgun.

Perry loved the outdoors and respected all of God’s creation. Those same values are your heritage.

Your self-reliant grandfather wasn’t afraid to try his hand at anything. But he knew when to ask for help. Don’t be too proud to do likewise.

If the weight of the world seems unbearable, remember those words on the brass cap where we scattered Perry’s ashes: “Be compassionate, be persevering, be bold, be free, and be true.”

When you drive Betsy, if folks say “There goes Perry’s granddaughter . she’s just like him,” I’ll be happy.

Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.

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