Todays blog challenge topic is loved ones.
I have a multitude of wonderful childhood memories about my paternal grandparents. Just to tell a few:
When I was 4 and 5 years old, I lived down a country road. My grandparents owned a “river lot” with a little clubhouse that required them to travel past my house to get to. If they would see me playing outside, they’d always stop, send me inside for permission, and then take me along. My grandma was always ready for the possibility of my joining them. She always had an extra sandwich–thuringer and muenster cheese spread thick with mayonnaise–at the ready. At the lot, she always found little tasks for me to complete. Sometimes I’d wipe down the counters in the clubhouse. Other times, I would pull weeds on the patio area. I’m sure I did a questionable job, but she always praised my hard work. My grandpa would “need” my help on the riding lawn mower or would send me into the woods on some task or another. I remember him offering me a nickel for every snake-skin I could find. We never ended a trip without one of them pushing me on the airplane glider.
My parents divorced before I was 2 years old, so my mom would always drop me off at my grandparents house on holiday afternoons. Instead of it being an awkward situation, my grandma always invited my mom inside to visit. She’d make her a plate of delicious food and spend some time talking and catching up. I remember her always ending the visit with a hug for my mom and an invitation to stop by anytime. Her generosity and kindness were genuine.
My grandpa always had the same picture on his bedroom dresser. It was a hand-tinted photograph taken of my grandma in the mid 1940s. My cousins and I would just stare at that picture, mesmerized by her beauty. Dark hair done up in an upsweep. Green eyes sparkling with some unknown secret. Full red lips smiling broadly. Whenever my grandpa would see us looking at the picture, he’d join us. He was a stoic man, but I swear he had tears in his eyes every time we saw him look at that photo. He’d always say the same thing: That’s how your grandma looked when I first met her. I knew right then and there I wanted to marry her. She’s beautiful, yes, but she has a spunky personality and a kind heart that make her more than just beautiful. They make her radiant. Surely I’m the luckiest man alive. When he died about seven years ago, my cousin held up this photo and retold that story as he eulogized him.
After mid-day holiday dinners, the table was always cleared for a game of cards. I’m not even sure the name of the game we played but it involved trying to get close to 21, knocking when you felt ready to show your hand so everyone knew they had one last play, and gambling with quarters. The kids would all crawl into the adult’s laps so we could “help”. If you were really lucky, you got grandma’s lap. She would teach you how to count cards. I guess that’s part of that spunky personality my grandpa talked about! 🙂
As I mentioned, by grandpa passed away seven years ago. My grandma is still here–81 and as spunky as ever. She plays cards on Tuesdays, bowls on Thursdays, and goes to Mass every Saturday evening. I had the pleasure of spending a little extra time with her when I was visiting over Thanksgiving. We snuck into a side room and had a private “catch-up” conversation. We relived a few of the good old days and then she got very serious. Shelly-Belly (a nickname only she is allowed), thank you for giving me such wonderful memories. Thank you for the honor of being Amelia’s namesake (Amelia’s middle name is Ruth, after my grandma). I’m proud of the person you are and I love you. (pause). Now, if your Dad will show me how to use his computer, I’m going to figure out how to use Skype and dial you up!