There is nothing better than a grandparent. An anchor to a family’s past and insight into the future. Grandparents are selfless and imperative. Having lost three grandparents, I can say that I miss them terribly, and very few days go by where a memory from riding my papa’s tractor, laughing with either of my grandmas, or watching my dad and his dad play cribbage doesn’t go through my mind.
My kids will agree with my assessment that books sound better, food tastes better, and life makes more sense at grandma’s house. My grandma, who is still with us today, walked me to and from school when I was a Kindergartner. She’d walk on the outside because she wanted to protect me from the semis when they’d pass. I thought her to be so brave to do that. My sister and I practiced speeches, made cakes, rode horses, rang the dinner bell, and had sleepovers at her house. My grandparents were some of my best friends when I was little. I never felt like I was a burden. I never felt like I was in the way, and I never felt like my opinion didn’t matter. When you’re a kid that is very rare. (Especially one that talks as much as I do.) My paternal grandmother was elegant and ornery. She was equal parts competitive, beautiful, articulate, and artistic. She was a teacher, one of the many in my family, and she is one of the reasons why I teach teenagers all day. There are not many days that go by where she does not cross my mind. I still have her Shakespeare play books from her time as a theater director. Her handwritten notes inside the books are something I cherish immensely.
Like most people who get to learn from their grandparents, I adore the stories that come from them. My grandmothers are the first storytellers in my memory. Both gave me such important insight into what brought my family here. It is from these stories that I felt the pride in my family grow. They bring authenticity to my life. They bring it to my children’s lives.
I currently live about 90 miles from my grandmother who is still with us, and she is someone who has been my idol since I could walk. My grandmother invested so much time in her grandchildren and continues to do this with her great-grandchildren. When I was young, her door was always open as was her lap for a hug or a story. Like me, my sister, and all of my cousins did, my children cheer when they find out we get to go see great grandma. But it wasn’t until I needed someone to watch my daughter so I could attend the funeral of a childhood friend, that I realized how much my kids need their own time with her.
That day I was nervous. My daughter is…spirited. I didn’t want her to stress my grandmother for the two or so hours I had to be gone. I dropped her off with the promise that she would be an absolute angel. Now, I know that probably wasn’t the case, but when I came to get her, they had already developed a bond that won’t soon be broken. Because my grandma gave my daughter her time, my daughter feels the way I have my whole life. My grandma is one of her favorite people. Just as I had special secrets with my grandmother, now my daughter has her own special secrets. She gets to drink her lemonade at great grandma’s out of a fancy cup. She and her great-grandmother like to play “Go Fish”. She likes to talk about those two hours she got to spend by herself with her idol where she felt like the most important little girl in the world. That’s the magic of my grandmother and most grandparents.
It’s hard to narrow down the excellence of grandparents. From my perspective, it’s that the people who raised us and brought us to this world are able to slow down, clear away the junk in life, and focus on what matters. The stories from my grandmothers, the adventures with my grandpas, and the connection from the past to the future are all reasons to celebrate the great people in our lives. Remember that my grandmother used to walk me to school on the outside, to protect my sister and me from the semis? At my grandfather’s funeral, as we all sat around telling stories about the love he gave us, grandma mentioned that when they were dating, they would go for walks, and grandpa always made sure to walk on the outside. Each day I spend with my grandma, explains a little more about our family and anchors me to the people who raised me.