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Grandpa John Couchum


When Grandpa John died on October 31, 1985, I was 15 years old. That was the first time I felt the light go out of my life and I felt numb. I remember going through the motions for the next few days. I was sent to Wells, a town 50 miles away, while my parents, my grandmother, and my cousins planned the funeral. I came back to town the day of the funeral to find everyone rushing around to get last minute things done and all I had to do was ride in the car with my grandmother and attend the funeral. I remember all of the people that had attended. Until recently, I did not know that he knew so many people. The funeral was jam packed with people I either did or didn’t know. I also remember my grandmother telling me not to look in the coffin, however, I did to her dismay. To my shock, I realized she was right. It left a lasting impression.

Growing up I was close to my paternal grandparents. They lived up the road from us so I was able to see them everyday. He drove us and picked us from school. They took on rides, we went to yard sales together, and we went to lots of baseball games because they both liked baseball. I remember listening to them speak Shoshone Indian. I remember making mud pies in their front yard with my cousins. When I was smaller, they came over to our house early early on Christmas mornings to watch us open Christmas presents. As I got older, Grandpa John got sick but funnier. I remember when he was so sick, he was placed in assisted living, but he hated it. He got up, got dressed, walked out the back door, and walked home to Grandma who made him breakfast and they sat there watching TV until someone showed up to find him there. LOL The last trip we took together was to Lamoille even though it was hard on him. We made sure he had his oxygen and was comfortable. When he died, he was in the hospital, I went to see him one last time.

When you are a teenager, you don’t think to ask about your grandparents life; what they did, where they lived, what they were like as a child, about their parents. Questions like that and many more I wish I asked. Now, I am almost 43 and lately, I have been thinking more and more about my grandfather. I have been working on a research paper that includes my grandfather’s work. Who knew he was a writer? Who knew he contributed to the Constitution and By-Laws for the Te-Moak Band of Western Shoshone Indians that was approved in 1938. Who knew that he wrote letters to Washington D.C.? Who knew he kept journals? Who knew anything? I didn’t. He was very quiet about his accomplishments and life. As I begin to write my paper with everything I have learned, I hope that he is looking down and realizes that his legacy still lives on.


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