Funny you should ask ... Tim Gamble

What were your grandparents like?

Having not been there for all the good stories, I can only regale the tales told to me by my parents, save one, when my wife, Sandy, rescued her grandfather from New York city.

Sandy’s grandmother fell ill and called Sandy. She wasn’t particularly close to her grandmother but enjoyed her company when the extended families would visit. The back stories of their relationship are truly tales to tell, but we’ll let that go for now.

Sandy decided to fly to New York to help her grandmother convalesce. When Sandy arrived, she found her grandmother gravely ill in the hospital just up the street. Marie was dying. She wanted Sandy to help her update her will and obsessed over what would happen to grandpa. She figured    because she was a little younger than Matheiu, she would probably die first and therefore had everything put in her name. New York wasn’t a community property state, which meant her sizable estate would be tied up for years in an expensive court proceeding. Who would take care of Mathieu?

Sandy called Marie’s lawyer to discuss the situation. The lawyer explained that she could petition the court to keep the estate open if she could show significant obligations to the estate which have not been paid. She instructed Sandy to start paying all the bills from her personal account and charge them to Marie. It was urgent to start paying the bills before she passes away or everything goes through probate.

Sandy called me up and told me of her grand plan. She said borrow $8,000 against the house and meet her in New York with the money. I was in the office working with one of the factory representatives I did a fair amount of business with when she called. When I hung up, I told him the other half of the conversation he’d been listening to. He said that’s seems pretty straight forward. Go to the bank and get the money and be on your way. I told him there was no chance of securing that much cash from my bank on such short notice. He said he might be able to help. He got on the phone and discussed my situation with a friend of his at a nearby bank. After the conversation, he said go see Bill at Colorado National Bank up on Colfax and he’ll help you out.

I went to see Bill. It turns out Bill was the bank president. He said get your wife to open a checking account in New York, let me know the numbers, and he’d wire in the money before I got there. “Wow, that’s terrific. How long will that take?” I asked. He said not to worry about it; we’ll do it now and fill in the paperwork when you get back. Of course, this is unheard of. Banks don’t do that. I found out later my representative friend told Bill to take it out of his personal account and put it in an account for Sandy.

When I landed in New York, it was all kinds of chaos. The airlines lost my luggage, the bank manager in New York said I couldn’t access the funds for two weeks, and Sandy’s grandmother had passed away. Sandy had paid a few bills from her Colorado account, but we needed the bank in New York to cooperate. After a series of conversations that ended in, “Who’s your boss?” And “I need to speak with your manager” — you know the drill — I finally got the New York manager to release the funds; after all, it was a wire transfer from another bank and there was no reason to hold the funds.

After the funeral, we sat down and discussed what Mathieu’s plans were. Did I mention I don’t speak French and Mathieu doesn’t speak much English? He was 75 years old. His 70-year-old wife of 50 years had just passed away. Had he given any thought to what he was going to do now? Not really. He’d just keep working. He was the head chef at Café des Artistes in New York, a somebody.

Sandy and I invited him to pack up and move in with us in Colorado. He was hesitant at first; he didn’t really know us. He showed me a want ad from a culinary magazine for a French Chef in Berthoud, Colorado. I said let’s give them a call. They were speaking in French, so I don’t know exactly what was said, but Mathieu seemed pleased and gave me the phone. I told the gentleman at the other end that I lived in Thornton, Colorado about 40 miles from Berthoud. He said he was intrigued and to give him a call when we got back. We packed up Grandpa, which is an entirely new story, and headed for Colorado.

After a week or so, I called the gentleman at the restaurant in Berthoud and set up a time to stop by. In 1980, Berthoud was a tiny town along the Front Range between Boulder and Fort Collins. It had a fabulous well-known restaurant off 3rd Street. When we walked in, the restaurant was packed with chefs from all over Colorado waiting to greet us. They were all speaking French. I had no idea what was going on, but it turns out Sandy’s grandfather was somewhat of a celebrity in the culinary world. They drank and talked and cheered and smoked cigars. It was quite a party. What a way to start your new life in Colorado! He was offered the job but turned it down saying that he was retired.

Grandpa lived with us for 13 years. When Mathieu died, we had him reunited with Marie in New York. So many more stories to tell. So many pounds to lose.

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