Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grandmas and Grandpas

Grandparents are great. I spent some time today looking at family photos and showing them to my girls. I like to tell them about my grandparents. I love seeing the photos of Miss with them. I feel sad because I will not be able to have photos of Lass with all of my grandparents. In the past year two of my grandparents passed away, and she will never meet them. Last December, my Papa B passed away and in February my Grandma C. I don't want to make this a sad post or to sound like I'm saying, "Poor me." The fact is, I don't feel like "Poor me" at all. I am the only person I know who was lucky enough to have all four of my grandparents living and in relatively good health up until this past year. I'm in my mid thirties and have had a long time to enjoy great relationships with my all of my grandparents.

So, I know that Miss won't remember my Grandma C and Papa B, and Lass will never meet them. But I talk about them. I want my girls to know how good they were and how much I loved them. How much they meant in my life and how often I still think of them. Right now I mostly just show pictures and tell the girls who they were. I do the same with pictures of my Grandma B and Grandpa C, who happily are still with us. When the girls are older I will tell them more. What kinds of things will I tell them?

Well, I'll tell them how my Grandma C used to make pancakes in animal shapes. It seems like she could do any animal we requested. I'll make her delicious potato salad with them and make sure they know it's her recipe. And I'll tell them that she used to give me free reign in her jewelry box, which was heaven for me as a little girl. I used to spend hours draping myself in her necklaces and clipping her earrings on. I'll tell them that she always seemed absolutely thrilled to see me, and how good that made me feel. I'll tell them that she never failed to tell me how much she loved me and how much she missed me, as I have lived far away from her and my Grandpa for many years. I'll tell them how much she loved Miss and how much she would have loved Lass had she been alive to know of her.

There are some things I find it hard to describe about her. Sometimes when I am rocking Lass, I notice that I am rocking and patting her in a rhythm that reminds me of my Grandma. I'm not sure why, as I'm sure I don't remember her rocking me that way. Maybe I saw her rocking and patting my younger cousins or older cousins' children that way. She loved holding babies! She was so loving and always wanted to hold my hand or pat my knee when we visited. Things like the sound of her voice or the feel of her hugs, which I remember well, will be hard to explain to my girls, but I will tell them as much as I can about her, so they can feel a little bit like they know her too.

I'll tell my girls about my Papa B too. I'll tell them that he was kind and funny. He was a great photographer, and I wish I would have become interested in photography when he was still living so I could have learned about it from him. I'll tell my girls that he was hard working and a WWII veteran. We have his old coffee thermos that he used to take to work in our kitchen, and they'll know that it belonged to their Great Papa. I'll tell them about his wonderful warm voice and surprisingly soft hands. I'll tell them about his great laugh. He had an ornery giggle when he was teasing, and a great happy laugh that made me smile. I'll tell them that he was funny. I'll tell them that he had a big laugh, and big ideas, and a big heart.
I'll tell them how he was legally blind in the latter years of his life, but he still golfed. He just had my Grandma orient him to the ball and away he went. I'll tell them how he obviously adored my Grandma, which was a wonderful thing to see. They were married nearly 70 years. I'll tell my girls how he'd say "Hey Kid!" and pinch my side. At his memorial service this summer I showed Miss a photo of him and said "This is your Great Papa. Can you say Papa?" and she did, for the first time.

I love to tell my girls about my Grandma B and am excited for Miss to see her again and Lass to meet her in a few months when we go visit her. They have tangible items all around that are constant reminders to me and to them of her. Miss plays with a Raggedy Ann doll that my Grandma made for me when I was little. And my Grandma recently sent Miss a beautiful quilt (to be featured in a future post). There is an afghan crocheted by my Grandma and a pillow embroidered by her in Miss's room. And Lass has a doll that my Grandma gave me. My Grandma puts love into her stitches, and we can wrap ourselves in it all the time. When we see or hold these things, I tell my girls where they came from.

I have many memories of singing with her as a little girl. She has a beautiful voice. She can play the piano and the dulcimer. She made the best grilled cheese sandwiches and we made s'mores on her gas stove. I can remember standing on a chair and her helping me to toast my marshmallow. Who needs a campfire?? And she makes a cherry cheesecake that is the best I've had. I just feel happy when I think of her. She is very special to me. She has always been patient and kind and loving. When I was in graduate school I went through a very painful break up. My Grandma sent me the most beautiful card to tell me that she was thinking of me. She is thoughtful that way and I'll never forget how that card made me feel better at the time. I still have that card. My Grandma has always been the best at making everything better.

I loved seeing Miss with her this summer when we were together for my Papa's memorial service.

My Grandma never wastes anything. She doesn't throw things away if she can reuse them, and she often does. I think she said she was going to make flowers out of the tissue paper in the photo below. It seems like she can make anything. She makes most of her own clothes and made those of my Papa. She is the keeper of our family memory, putting together photo albums for everyone in the family packed with history.

My Grandpa C has a very special place in my heart. He is strong and proud and good and loving. He and my Grandma had six children and he always wore a tie clip with the birthstones of all of his children on it. I remember sitting on his lap when I was little and saying the names of all of my aunts and uncles as I pointed to each of their birthstones. I had a funny rhythm in which I would repeat the names, over and over, and he was always patient and attentive as I did it. I loved that tie clip!!

He calls me "Amesville" and has a similar nickname for nearly everyone in our family. I can hear his big voice in my head calling out this nickname when I would walk into their house in years past. Now his voice is softer but the nickname is the same, every time. He is Italian, and Miss was given an Italian name because of him. She goes by a shorter version of her legal name, but he always calls her by her given Italian name. He is the only one who does.

I also enjoy telling my girls about their Great Grandma S, my husband's grandma. I don't have the memories to tell them about her like I do with my grandparents, but I can tell them what a delightful woman she is and how loving and devoted to her family she is.

I think grandparents are the greatest thing. I think of mine often and hold my memories close. Even though I didn't always live near them, they seem to be a big part of who I have become. I like to hear their stories, whether directly from them or from my parents. I could look for hours at the photo albums my Grandma B has put together with her captions. My favorite is the one of her and my Papa in their "courting" years and early years of their marriage.

In addition to having all four of my grandparents living until recently, I was fortunate enough to know two of my great grandmothers. I have great memories of them as well, particularly G-Grandma J, who lived near me when I was growing up. I remember writing a paper about her when I was in 5th grade and being so intrigued by her life. Family history is so important and special. I hope my girls will love it as much as I do.

And even though we don't live near their grandparents either, I hope they will have wonderful relationships with them as well and make the same kind of memories that bring warmth as only grandparents can. That is why my husband and I travel with them as much as we do. To give our girls the gift of family and grandparents and great grandparents. There's nothing like Grandmas and Grandpas.

They give lots of love.

They make everything amazing and interesting and fun.

Grandmas and Grandpas are the best.

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