Theodore A. Borsum
August 24, 1921 - November 10, 2010
It's very difficult to know where to begin with something like this. Just six weeks ago I lost a good friend and now my grandfather is gone. I'm not even sure I'm ready to write this, but at the same time I know it will be therapeutic. That's my hope, anyway.
|Grandpa shooting from his handmade bench|
My grandfather was an expert at reloading ammunition. He did it all - shotgun shells, rifle cartridges, and pistol cartridges. In one area of the basement, there were work benches with loaders mounted on them and he showed us the proper methods for loading ammunition. As kids and teenagers, we weren't always patient enough to listen, but in the long run I learned a lot from those lessons.
|My grandfather in his workshop|
My grandparent's farm comprises forty acres in lower Michigan. They bought the place long before I was born. To me, it's like the family homestead. I can't possibly convey the good times I've had there over the years. Grandpa worked the farm for a bit at first, but when he began his career as an engineer, the farm land itself was leased out to other farmers to work.
|Grandpa on the ol' Allis Chalmers tractor|
Shooting and woodworking weren't the only talents my grandfather possessed. He was also a small aircraft pilot. My brothers and I grew up in West Virginia after our father was given a job transfer from Michigan. I'll always remember Grandpa flying to WV and picking us up and flying us back to Michigan. He even let us take turns flying the plane. It was an awesome experience! It was definitely much faster than the usual eight hour drive.
|My youngest brother with our grandfather|
My grandfather was a very practical man. He was quiet, laid back, and never bragged. I never heard him raise his voice in anger. He would give you the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his pocket if you needed it. At the same time, he wasn't one to reward laziness. He worked hard, didn't complain, and expected the same from others. I'll always remember one occasion when us three boys had done quite a bit of shooting. We were always eager to send the lead down range, but usually not as quick to clean the guns or reload the ammo we had shot up. We were in the basement after the shooting session and doing a slacker's job of reloading ammo. I think Grandpa had been patient with us many times and decided we needed to get a bit more serious. When he walked in and saw that we were goofing off, in a stern voice he said, "You shoot a few, you reload a few". For him to use that tone with us, we knew he meant business. Yet, even then it wasn't out of anger.
|Hunting in Michigan's Upper Peninsula|
For many years, my grandparent's owned a cabin in northern Michigan. We made numerous trips to spend a few days there. Grandpa took us fishing, glassing for deer, and sometimes we'd drive to Lake Michigan. And we always stopped at the local ice cream shop which was well known for its great ice cream. My grandpa's truck at the time had a topper on the bed and I'll never forget sitting back there with a battery powered AM/FM radio listening to country music as we drove around the small town.
|Grandpa shooting pool|
I learned many things from my grandfather - from shooting guns to shooting pool. Although, I was never able to match his skill at the latter. As is typical in life, many of the things I learned from him I didn't realize until I was older and a bit wiser. I've always respected my grandfather, but didn't always know when he was trying to teach me something. Funny how those things often click later on.
|With Grandpa after my return from Desert Storm|
As a kid, I just assumed my grandfather would be here forever. He was 89 and his passing was not unexpected, but I still have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he's gone. He was truly the patriarch of the family. When he was a little older, we jokingly referred to him as "The Pope". He and my grandmother were the rock of the family. They would lend a hand wherever it was needed and you never left their table hungry. They came from a generation that worked hard, lived simply, and were generous.
|Doing what he loved to do|
I had the opportunity to speak with my grandpa one last time and I'm so glad I did. We spoke about various things for several minutes and, naturally, the conversation turned to hunting. Before we were done, I thanked him for taking the time to introduce me to the outdoors when I was young. If I hadn't told him how much I appreciated that, I would have regretted it the rest of my life.
Ted Borsum is survived by his wife, three sisters, three daughters, six grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. My grandfather may be gone now, but he will always be my hero.