My grandpa, Hugo V. Kojola, aka Joe. To me, he was a funny, jolly man with a huge white bread, so naturally I thought he was Santa Claus for several years as a kid. He was a inventor, tinkerer and maker of many things in his basement workshop.

He taught me to play a banjo, let me do gymnastics on his walker, and had a really cool rock polishing machine that I thought was pure magic. He once made me a beautiful stainless steel handle for an old, plastic suitcase when the original handle broke during my travels. He upheld the Kojola spirit with the notion that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

It’s been 20 years since he passed away, but I always sense his kind, playful presence among the tunkashilas (grandfather ancestor spirits) and always smile when I think about him.

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