Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. ~ Proverbs 17:6
I have been blessed to have grown up with all of my grandparents. It wasn’t until in recent years that things changed. My grandparents lived really close to me growing up, and that was a blessing. I was able to see them frequently most of the time. When I moved away to go to college, I remember feeling really homesick for everyone. I missed borrowing books from Mamaw, I missed seeing what outdoor project my Papaw was working on (because he was ALWAYS doing something outside). I missed Gran’s good food and conversation, and I missed stealing Peep’s green beans off his plate and watching TV with him.
All of them showed their love in deed, conversation, and in expression.
Little things about my grandparents are etched into my memory. When I was a little girl, for about a year or so, I would snatch Starburst from my Papaw’s bedside table. He knew I’d done it, and he could’ve hidden his stash elsewhere. But he knew I enjoyed it, and he delighted in the fact that I enjoyed his stash, too.
He was pretty quiet most of the time unless something tickled him. He liked to joke around. Papaw was a man who had to be doing something, and most of the time it was outdoors. Canning and quilting were activities he enjoyed, too, and he loved buttermilk.
Grandkids were numerous, and he assigned every one of them with a nickname at birth or shortly afterward. My nickname was Peanut. Even though there were a lot of grandkids, he could rattle off every kid’s nickname as easily as he could rattle off the alphabet!
Mamaw had books everywhere. It’s safe to say that she was a book hoarder. I remember she had books everywhere the eye could see. Books of every genre, for every age. I wasn’t interested in books, though, until I was in middle school. When I started paying more attention to her books, she loaned me the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn, and I was hooked. I read the entire Anne of Green Gables series, many of the Babysitter Club books, and then she loaned me the Ellie’s People series by Mary Christner Borntrager.
By that time, I was sure that I wanted to write stories. I began writing a silly little story (not silly at the time, though!), and she read it all. She made comments in the margins, replaced any words that were in error, and told me her suggestions. My first constructive criticism was from Mamaw, and I took it gingerly yet excitedly as a thirteen-year-old.
After I was married, we lived away from my hometown, but my visits with Mamaw always included book discussions. She’d show me the books she’d bought and tell me what she thought I should read. Throughout my adult years any time I’d visit Mamaw, she’d fill a grocery bag full of books for me to read.
Gran was a fancy lady. She always had pretty purses, gorgeous high-heeled shoes, jewelry (with lots of Avon thrown in the mix), and wore colorful clothes. A smart lady, Gran could hold an intelligent conversation on just about any topic, but she didn’t put on airs. She worked outside the home for many years, but she always cooked meals for her family. Navy beans and cornbread were my favorite.
When I was nine or ten, Peep (my pet-name for my grandfather) told me what Gran had bought me for Christmas–a baby doll that I had wanted. Gran found out about what he’d done and promised she’d never tell him what she was getting me again.
One of my favorite memories of her was when I had my first son in 1999. I had been hospitalized with pre-eclampsia which later teetered on eclampsia. When my body decided it was time to give birth at 34 weeks, she and my grandfather were away from home and traveled for hours to see me. Looking back now, I realize they may have thought they’d never see me again. When they came into my hospital room, Gran took a good look at me and said that my lips were chapped. She pulled out some lip balm from her purse and took care of my problem.
When she was hospitalized in January of this year with a broken hip which led to sepsis, and then death on Valentine’s Day, I found myself replaying that hospital scene over and over in my mind. Watching her struggle, I understood why she’d wanted to do something for me on that day in 1999. It was the one thing she could control, the one way that she could help.
My pet-name for him began when I was a tiny little thing. For whatever reason, I called him Peepaw, and it eventually shortened to Peep. I was his sidekick a lot of times. I’d get bored inside the house with Mom and Gran, so I’d go outside to see what Peep was up to. Like my Papaw, Peep was always doing something outside, too. During my growing up years, I climbed up the hill with him many times when he’d cut limbs from trees, go under the house to fix plumbing issues, or hold the ladder when the roof needed patching. Often I’d follow him to the barber shop he had on his property when he had an appointment with a customer.
One of my most cherished memories was sitting on the hillside at the back of their property in a swing watching him mow. He had gotten off of his riding mower to get a small fallen branch out of the way, and a split second later, his mower was riding down the hill without him. Above the noise, I was laughing and shouting his name and pointing at his mower. I don’t think I’d ever seen him run so fast. That image is burned in my mind!
Love of a Grandparent
If you are reading this, no doubt you may have grandparents who left marks on your heart. They are a blessing, and the wisdom and memories that they share and leave with us are precious.
I have one grandparent now, and while I will always miss those who have gone on to be with the Lord, I’m so grateful to have had their love, encouragement, and example to follow.