A Man For All Seasons

Dear friends,

My sweet dad, Steve Grooms, died at home early on Thanksgiving morning. I feel so incredibly lucky that we spent most of Wednesday together as he wasn’t feeling well that day. Two visits from 911 paramedics and multiple calls to advice nurses and his doctors couldn’t shed light on what was happening, and the ERs were/are full due to COVID and couldn’t take him. Despite normal vitals and no pain (just discomfort), he and I both knew something was wrong enough to warrant our needing to be together in what I know now were his final hours. It appeared he passed in his sleep sometime after I left to go home and sleep, and I hope against hope that he didn’t suffer.

Please don’t regret the timing. Dad had so much to be thankful for. A long and rich life full of love and laughter. Beloved family. Wonderful dogs. Adventures and stories; oh so many stories. Stories told with the richness of his appreciation for human nature, for humor, for empathy and compassion, history, and nature. So many stories told to you. And just as much as he loved the telling, he loved the gift of receiving a good story. My greeting, dear friends, isn’t accidental. I feel as if I know so many of you through his recounting of your presence in his life. And I am humbled, grateful, and so deeply appreciative for what this community meant to him.

You sustained him in the dark years following his divorce. You showed up to help when rheumatoid arthritis and congestive heart failure made life alone in his home almost unsustainable. You sawed up fallen trees and eventually helped him pack up and leave Minnesota to join us in Oregon. You were with him in words and spirit through the new lives he created, first in Oregon, then Michigan, then finally back in his beloved Minnesota. He carried you, his community, with him. You were a daily, if not hourly, gift to him. The people he wanted to process his life with, the friends he treasured.

I am beyond heartbroken right now and can’t seem to figure out what happens next. I keep reaching for the phone to call Dad to tell him how awful this all is, until I remember… Know that we will gather sometime in the future, likely in the Spring, to honor his life and you will all be invited. Until then, I invite you to share your memories of him here, in the space he so loved. Renee can forward anything you wish to send to me directly and know that I will respond as soon as I am able. 

Thank you. My family and I are so grateful for the gift of your love and friendship toward Dad in these years. It means everything to us, as it meant everything to him. All my love,

Molly

101 thoughts on “A Man For All Seasons”

  1. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Weirdly, last night while we were playing a game, my niece, her partner, and my sister-in-law broke into song, singing “Santa Baby,” a song which I have always just ignored as unworthy of attention. There must have been a Santa Baby cosmic wave out there last night inspiring today’s post.

    Years and years ago, Wasband got obsessed with an Eastern European women’s group (maybe Croatian, maybe Urkranian) that Jim Ed and Dale played on TLGMS. Wasband bought the album, brought it home and cued it up, playing it over and over for months, then years. Can you understand why I left the guy? At first, when Dale played it, I found it interesting but my response was neutral. After years of forced listening to this group, I loathe it.

    With the privacy of earbuds, I sometimes listen to the Roche’s version of the Hallejuah chorus repeatedly or Emmy Lou Harris “Boulder to Birmingham.” I love Emmy’s voice and style.

    Happy Black Friday and Holiday Season to my beloved Baboons and all our readers. May the shopping begin. GO

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh Baboons, the saddest news. Molly emailed this morning to let me know that Steve died yesterday. She wrote a loving note to us and Sherrilee and I will figure out the best way to post it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In view of Steve’s recent relapses, his silence the last couple of days had been concerning. Without Steve’s voice and stories the Trail is going to feel off-balance.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I, too, had worried that silence from Steve on the trail was ominous. I was hoping that he’d have one last memorable Thanksgiving at his beloved Molly’s new house and then slip away. I take comfort in knowing that he at least did get to enjoy a visit in her new home fairly recently.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. In view of his recent health challenges, it is not a total shock to hear of his passing, but I am surprised because it sounded like he was doing better lately. I will miss his voice and his stories on the trail.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. YA and I went out this morning to get our tree and wreath and it felt a little off to be out holiday shopping when I was feeling so sad. Then we turned a corner and there was a woman with a therapy dog. A beautiful white retriever who was the sweetest thing and let me pet him and pet him and pet him. Part of me doesn’t believe in an afterlife but another part of me feels like Steve, who loved dogs so much, had sent this one to me.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi guys, this is mig. I have no idea what WordPress is going to do with this reply as it’s been so long since I was here that signing in may or may not have happened.

      I got Barb’s email this morning and am beyond sad.

      As some of you may remember, this is the crazy time of the year for me, and the last 2 years have been kind of a crazy decade for me.

      My original plan for the day was to work right straight through, but I think I need to go for a walk by the river,

      I learned a lot from Steve about how to notice things.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Hi, mig! WP is being a bit stubborn with me too and won’t allow me to like your comment. Glad to “see” you and I think a nice walk near the River is just the thing.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I had to fiddle with WP a good bit to be able to like and comment too. And there are a lot of little things they have changed up, so I’m right there with you.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I can comment and post, but I can’t like anything. I’ve tried to “like” quite of few of your comments today but WP won’t let me. And I have to give my credentials each time I comment.

          Like

  6. Steve was our ‘go to’ for nature questions. Last year when the Sandhill Cranes were on the farm I asked him lots of questions and I even found his book about cranes. It’s a great book!
    I posted some photos and Steve didn’t like the color so he adjusted them. Well… you all know computer monitors are different and his fix didn’t work for me, but I didn’t want to say that exactly because he was so adamant about the colors being right… And I kinda walked around the Issue and he said to me, “I’ve read your notes to me using my special Minnesota Nice Decoder. And I think what you are saying is that the edited photos don’t look right to you . . . but you are too polite to say so”. It made me laugh.

    I hope he’s back in the trout streams and forests and playing with all the dogs.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. It has been a few days since I have checked on the Trail, and certainly heard the call to visit today. Now I know why. Such sad news. I will never forget meeting Steve in person the first time: it was at the first meeting of our Blevins’ Book Club at Minnehaha Park. There sat a man with the kindest eyes and a camera – he was the first to arrive and I think I was second. I instinctively knew he was one of us somehow. (Now I need to go dig around the computer files – he sent a copy of the photo he took of me when I wasn’t paying attention… it was quite good, in part because I could see that it was how he saw me, not just a photo of me.) Such a kind soul. I shall miss his voice and his stories.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I was introduced to most baboons via candid photos Steve had taken at various baboon functions. They are really quite nice portraits. Off the top of my head there are photos of Jacque, Linda, VS, JoAnn, and Tim. I’m guessing that he already shared them with each of you, but if not, or you haven’t saved them and would like a copy, I’ll be glad to forward them.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. I couldn’t figure out how to separate them and send them only to you, so I’ve forwarded them to everyone. Just delete if they are of no interest to you. I know there are many more photos, but I can think of only a few with Steve in them.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Comment from BiR

    I’ve been thinking about Steve all day and been writing down little snippets when they occurred to me:

    – I will miss his kindness, his knowledge of several areas, his sense of the absurd, his sense of humor, his common sense…

    – his skillful writing and storytelling, esp. about the cabin on South Shore L. Superior, working in the bait shop early on, teaching English…

    – his love for daughter and grandson, his sister and parents, and all those dogs.

    – he grew up in places I frequented – Ames Iowa – so I could envision where he was describing

    – I think he had huge piles of guilt and seemed to take responsibility for stuff that might not have been his. Through it all, I loved how he could laugh at himself.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Dale suggested this link to Steve’s posts. https://trailbaboon.com/author/mnwriterguy/

    Dale wrote “He posted as “Steve in St. Paul” from the very first day (6/4/2010) to September of 2013, then as “Happy Valley Steve” from June 2014 to June of 2017, and as “Minnesota Steve” starting in June of 2019. Added together, the number of comments is more like 10,183, covering 511 pages. And that’s with gaps of more than 2 1/2 years where I don’t know what name he was using. Quite a record of his wisdom and humor! “

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Oh my! We ordered some new classical cd’s that arrived today. One is of Ashenazy playing Chopin sonatas. He just started playing the funeral march. What a fitting end to the day!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I didn’t check in on the blog earlier today, so I am just absorbing this news, with sorrow and resignation.

    I looked at my old history of e-mails with Steve, to give myself a little refresher course of the many ways our lives intersected in the past decade or so. There were many involving trips to the cabin on the south shore of Lake Superior which he so generously shared with his baboon friends, and others that revolved around the upkeep and eventual sale of the little hobbit home in Highland Park.

    One e-mail that made me smile followed a package I sent when Steve first moved back to St. Paul. I had had a chance encounter with an artist and poet who had a studio in my neighborhood, and because of one of those nudges that the universe occasionally affords, there was a mention of Cornucopia, and it turned out that she knew Steve from their time there. She had a book of her poetry she was offering for sale, and I bought a copy for Steve as a sort of housewarming gift. This is from his note to me:

    “You would have gotten a big laugh if you had been in my living room when Molly gave me the envelope with the book in it.

    ‘Oh, great! Someone gave me a book!’

    ‘Jesus, this is a Lake Superior book!’

    ‘Oh, wow, I can’t believe this. It is a book by Nancy Raeburn! Who on god’s green earth knows I know Nancy Raeburn?!?’

    And then I realized it was you. For no reason, I have a blind spot about your last name. You are Linda. You are the only Linda who ever was in my life. When I think of you, your last name doesn’t register. You are Linda.

    I can’t thank you enough for this gift. For several reasons, it is a special treat for me. And you will appreciate the fact it comes as a bit of joy in a week of raw grief.”

    This was shortly after we lost our littlejailbird, a couple of summers ago.

    Later, I received this from Steve:

    “As my assets deplete, I find myself making a few last purchases. I just ordered a book that I hope you will enjoy. This is based on noticing patterns in your TB comments over the years. It wasn’t very expensive. Hope you find it worthwhile.”

    It was a book of quotes from the publication The Sun.

    So I will have that as a lasting memento, along with a stack of CD’s that he burned for me from his collection, and countless memories from the conversations we had, both in person and on TB.

    Liked by 9 people

  12. It’ll be the middle of your night now when this gets across the water, but I think all y’all will be looking back at this post for a day or two.

    I’m a perplexing character. I perplex myself!
    I kind of thought I’d perplexed Steve a couple of weeks ago. Maybe even offended him, but probably not. I was just trying to explain something. He went quiet and stayed quiet, and I started thinking, he hasn’t even sent me a Tuba Skinny link. I need to see if he’s OK. As he has done for me when I went quiet.
    But I didn’t.
    You can guess how sorry I am.
    I’m very, very sorry.
    And I really needed to say it.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Jacque and PJ, thank you, I appreciate that. But no, it wasn’t really that I thought he was upset with me. I doubt if either of us was ever offended. It was just that I thought about making the effort, but didn’t make it. I thought, I’ll hear from him in a day or two. The road to hell etc.

          Liked by 4 people

  13. Steve told me, when he introduced me to you guys, about the time you showed up and cut that wood, and what a momentous occasion that was, in terms of you all becoming closer. But he never did say that he’d lent out his cabin to all comers, as far as I recall.
    And maybe it’s not my place to say this. But I’m sure many Baboons know, Barbara, how it hurt him so terribly that he physically couldn’t help you in your recent troubles. He told me how kind you and Mike had been, helping him night after night to pack up his house. And now he had to stand by, unable to do anything for you. That’s one thing he didn’t joke about.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I should clarify – Husband and I, and Bill if memory serves, helped paint his dining room, getting the bungalow ready for showings. Linda and I went multiple times to help him organize and downsize – it was quite the adventure, and a lot of fun along with the work. I remember he felt badly about not being physically able to help, but he guided us, provided music and sometimes food, and let us take home bunches of CDs…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I remember this happening very well. He was also giving away so much, and I have all sorts of tools and storage drawers I use every day while I work. And then all the BOOKS! I think nothing will beat the great tree removal adventure in my memories. It is one of the great “strange new world of the internet” stories that many of us were meeting for the first time in person to wield chain saws and hack up a tree.

        Liked by 4 people

  14. On a completely different and happier note, this is our Ben Hain news that I’m reasonably certain he would never get around to tell us:

    “Congratulations to Jeanne Skattum and Paul Skattum for having a volunteer award named in their honor and to Ben Hain who is the first recipient of the Jeanne and Paul Skattum Outstanding Volunteer Award given Friday night at the Rochester Repertory Theatre Company.”

    Congratulations, Ben. I sure this recognition is well deserved.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Far out – WP is letting me comment again.

    Does anyone remember when Steve was in the hospital this last time, when he had the dying experience? I’m trying to remember what he’s said about his beliefs about afterlife.

    Like

    1. At the time, he said he’d been to hell and the coffee was cold. I never did see if he answered my question as to whether he got interviewed by St. Peter. I asked twice. Was he hiding something?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Barb! I’m reading and trying to “like” all the comments I’m reading but WP won’t let me. It keeps logging me out. Thanks for letting me know. I’m very sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. i am dumb struck i heard steves comments about his health being off and didn’t realize the severity ireally do feel like ive been punched in the stomach and the loss im feeling today will be realized more and more as the days go by without hearing from steve

    the hole left in the trail will be very different from the one left in the bucket of water. steve was such a distinct kind voice that loved to share his thoughts and observations with us as we walked the trail together.

    his stories of the years at the magazine about his hunting and fishing trips his stories about growing up in iowa and at the university of minnesota in

    steve’s contributions and insights were what the trail is all about and while i didn’t agree with 100% of what he said I did agree with 100% of the spirit that he said it with no malice just pure straight from the heart feeling

    steve’s last years remind me of the george carlin story about stuff where you have a house and then you go on vacation and you only take some of your stuff and then you go on a trip and you only take part of that stuff … steve’s life went from a house that was an enclave of memories to a moving van full of stuff shipped to oregon to a room in st. paul and his life became the essence of his soul with stuff as a diminishing issue.

    some of us stick our heads in from time to time with gaps in our entries. steve chose the trail as his base and it was so wonderful to see his comments and observations

    i’m really going to look back fondly on his contributions and observations

    the trail is so much richer because he was here in such a constant and meaningful way

    i’m going to try to appreciate his memory each time i miss him

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey tim, I wrote a long reply to you but WP ate it and it’s gone. I’m sorry I missed you at Rock Bend. I was there, off to the side under the trees with a good friend. I enjoyed it the way most people do this year, not as a staff person. I stayed where I was most of the day. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. Rock Bend is a very social event and folks hadn’t seen each other for a long time. Also, it was incredibly well attended and the park was full, possibly the reason for the violation of your front row space.
      Now we’ll see if WP allows this to post.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. We met Steve, Molly, and Liam in Oregon during his stint as Happy Valley Steve. We were in Portland visiting family, and met up at a German restaurant for brunch. The discussion was lovely, and he gave us a copy of his wolf book.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Thank you for mentioning this PJ. You’re right, I probably wouldn’t have. 🙂
    Paul Skattum reads this often and comments occasionally.
    It is pretty nice. But it’s even better that it included them.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I met Steve early in the blog when it was still Trial Balloon and Dale was our leader. He was kind, creative and generous. I visited him at his cabin with Linda and Jacque. I think tim was part of that group too. Steve gave me a book he wrote about wolves, which is a treasure.

    I’ve been feeling the pull of the Trail recently and maybe this is the reason for that. This place has always been welcoming and nonjudgmental. It made me feel comfortable and needed in the past and now I’m wiping tears from my eyes as I remember a man who was a huge part of that.

    I will be here more often. You all matter to me.

    Liked by 6 people

  20. Hello Babooners, I’m not sure who is responsible for granting log-in access to those of us who have strayed. Maybe VS or Renee? Anyway, WP won’t let me log in at all and is firmly telling me that I don’t have the right to access that dashboard. Just want to log in, just want to be recognized again. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, I think only VS and I have access to the dashboard right now. You must be logged in in some fashion, since I see your name and Avatar. I will ask VS about this. I think maybe Barb has access, too, now that I think of it. VS has more knowledge about this than I do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to log in every time I post or reply or comment. And I can’t “like” anything. So, I can log in just to say something but then it just logs me right back out. I know. I’ve been a stranger and it’s punishing me for my absence.

        Like

        1. Krista, this may or may not be useful to you because it depends how you are accessing the Trail. For years I accessed it on my iPad through my browser without problems. Then suddenly I was not able to “like” anything and I had to separately log in for each comment I wanted to make. Instead of getting to the Trail through my browser, I downloaded the WordPress app and access the Trail that way. Haven’t had any problems since. Of course that only applies if you are using an app-based computer.
          WordPress must have changed some programming a year or two back.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Bill, I’ve taken your advice and am now using the app. It doesn’t bring up the blog sometimes even though I have marked “follow “.
          But it works much better than using a web browser. Thank you!

          Like

        3. Teehee.. penance has been repeated 10 times as advised! I seem to be able to post again, thanks! I do use an iPad and a web browser to access the blog. I have tried the app in the past and I had a lot of trouble with it. It was one of the first problems I ever had and I ended up with a WP account and my own page which continues to be unused. I tried to delete it today in an attempt to just log in to the blog but it didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try the app again. Thanks for the advice!

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I did fix BiR this morning. But I can’t do it from my phone so will have to wait a couple of hours until I’m upstairs with my laptop. Maybe I can fix Krista’s issues too.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I am back home in Minnesota, where I saw Wes’s comment. So I turned on the game. It is now going better for the Gophers. I am absolutely certain that Steve is inspiring the Gopher mascot that his father developed and this is why the Gophers are now ahead.

      Please, no one mess with my fantasy. I returned home kind of upset by a family issue of long standing, and I need a fantasy like this right now.

      Liked by 5 people

  21. Steve’s Return of the Wolf book was how I first met him in person. He wanted to give me a copy of an updated edition after I had gotten the first edition from the library. When I went over to pick it up, he invited me in and we chatted a little bit. As you do with most people that you’re just getting to know, he asked me where I worked and when I told him, I can’t even describe the look of horror that came over his face. If you have read some of his memoir you’ll know that the person he detested most in life (called the Investor) had done his dad dirty in a business dealing. That Investor was the founder, and at the time, president of my company (he passed away about ten years ago). I still remember thinking how gracious Steve was to not throw me right out of the house and how he never held it against me that I worked for the Investor.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Steve actually sent it in a few years ago with one of his blog pieces. I found the picture But haven’t identified which piece of his belongs to. Yet..

      Liked by 3 people

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