Grandparents’ Day was yesterday, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my own grandparents recently. About the role they played in my childhood and throughout my adult life, the unique history that they have passed down to me, and for the memories and traditions that I will retell to my own children.
I am extremely blessed, at age 35, to still have all four of my grandparents here with me (plus two irreplaceable “adopted grandparents”, Popaw Harold and Momaw Jannie, who came to every birthday party we ever had, taught us how to play Rook, slipped chocolate pudding to us before we’d finished our lunch, and shared a place of honor in the grandparents’ row at my sisters’ weddings).
my grandparents | circa 1990s and circa 1950s
I can still remember spending the night with my maternal grandparents when I was a little girl… waking up to the smell of coffee, bacon, and Momaw Bertie’s delicious homemade biscuits. She had a special way of mixing them, just like her mom taught her. She said she made them with “sweet milk” as opposed to buttermilk, and I always found that term fascinating. I didn’t think there was anything sweet about milk! Anyhow, I would wander into the kitchen to find my Mom already sitting at the kitchen table, drinking black coffee out of corningware mugs, listening to updates on all of the family members that we didn’t get to see often. I remember the yellowed keys on the old upright piano, once burned in a house fire. I remember playing on their carport with my cousins. I smile when I think about all us kids sitting in a semicircle around the Christmas tree, waiting for our turn. When I was a teenager, Popaw Lucian would ask me who my newest boyfriend was… and if his name was Johnny or Billy. Popaw gave my kids their first puppy this past year. He was always ready with a joke, and he had the warmest, heartiest laugh. I have great memories of Popaw playing his fiddle for us — we would watch with big eyes and smiles — and he would say, “now how about that?” when he finished his tune. They were always so hard-working, and still are, even now in their 70’s. I remember that there was always a home improvement project in process. Momaw was just as involved in remodeling as Popaw was… she could hang windows, mount doors and put up drywall just as well as he could. They passed their DIY spirit onto my mom, who passed it down to my sisters and me. And I still have my own toolbox!
My paternal grandparents are the epitome of grace-based grandparenting. They made us feel like it was an honor to simply have us in their lives! My two sisters and I would bounce off the walls at their house, and instead of calling us down or complaining about the noise we were making, they would only celebrate our childish energy, and wish to bottle some of it for themselves. They taught us that there is always a reason for everything, even if we couldn’t see or understand it at the moment. They never said no when we asked to visit them. They always had time for us, no matter what was on their schedule. They simply made us a part of their plans, and part of their lives. When I was born, they carpeted over their beautiful hardwood floors, so that I would have a soft place to crawl. Momaw Jiggs never minded us making messes at their house. “Ahh, we’ll clean it up later,” was always her attitude. She taught us girls how to shuck corn, snap beans, and make strawberry jam. She was the picture of hospitality, and always made sure we ate something within five minutes of coming through her door. Popaw Deb always shared old family photographs — and their backstories — with us, and was such a wonderful influence on me in that regard. He read us countless Bible stories in his recliner, remembering to explain the parts that we might not understand. He always bought our favorite snack cakes at the grocery store. In fact, he bought us little miniature grocery carts, took us and the carts to the store, and would make us laugh by pretending to cry out when we bumped our carts into his shins. He let us fill our little baskets with whatever treats and goodies we wanted to eat. They both went to great lengths to make us know that there were never any favorites between us three girls. Even Momaw and Popaw’s marriage was a wonderful example to us. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this week! To this day, they laugh — and pray — over their troubles, and they both have a knack for finding the humor and silver lining in most any dark cloud. Momaw is very sick right now, but Popaw always takes excellent care of her, and has for years. Popaw said he doesn’t resent it for a moment. Even now, in the hospital, he refuses to leave her side, and continues to make her laugh in her hospital bed. I can’t think of a more perfect example of constant, beautiful, faithful love… as theirs.
I hope that you’ll celebrate these wonderful people in your own lives this week, whether honoring them in person or celebrating their memory.
Will you share your memories of your own grandparents with us here in the comments? Has their influence shaped the kind of parent you are today, or the parent you hope to become?