I had the oddest going-to-sleep memories filling my brain the other night. I had read a devotional in “Rejoice!” by Charlotte Hardt, a retired registered nurse who not only has grandchildren, but a great-grandchild. She remembers sitting between her grandparents during church and loving it when her grandma slipped her peppermint candies during the sermon.
In my case, it was Grandpa who was known for slipping kids wintergreen peppermints when they came up to him after the church service. And my dad carried forward the tradition, at least for a while.
All of a sudden, my own grandmother popped into my mind. The one who lived in the apartment attached to our farm home in northern Indiana.
I started trying to remember what made her special. I knew her from approximately 6 months old until I was 11. Since my oldest grandsons are now 7, I know the impressions and memories they are forming with us are long lasting.
Grandma Miller was plump, no doubt, and her roundness was nothing but comforting when she enveloped you in a hug. Of course, her size brought on “sugar diabetes” as we called back it then, and she watched her sugar. I remember seeing the strips of testing paper she kept in their very tiny bathroom. My mother recalls Grandma bringing over the test strips for her to see: blue meant her level of sugar was good, and orange was bad. Eventually, she had a stroke.
Their biggest room was a bedroom/living room combo where Grandpa’s legendary and historic grandfather clock stood in one corner. We loved to help Grandpa wind his clock. There was a china cabinet holding Grandma’s special antique dishes, and two chairs for them, including a rocker (which I now have in my bedroom). Grandma Miller (her name was Barbara) would allow me to handle and play with some of the cabinet items, including a small, yellow plastic salt and pepper shaker in a basket. I loved it and asked her if I could have it when she was gone. She talked about such things often, so it wasn’t like I was anxious for her to die. It was quite unimaginable for me, because they were always there and my parents enjoyed having live-in babysitters, as my mother will still admit.
Their apartment included a very small porch to the east where trellises held climbing roses in summer. When Grandma died at age 81, Grandpa carried a fresh rose each day to the funeral home, to put in her hands. Their marriage and love last 67 years through bad times and good. May we all be so fortunate.
What will your grandkids remember about you?
Perhaps more than anything we want things to stay the same at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, right?
• The same toys you played with the last time. For my girls, they always wanted to play with my mother’s corn elevator and wagonload of kernels that they’d always scatter all over the carpet.
• The always-read books should be out — oh, maybe a new one now and then.
• The same foods we love.
• The house to smell the same.
• A big hug and kiss (maybe, for the willing).
• The familiar clothes.
• The rocker in the same place.
Some things have to change. My father eventually got to the point that he realized the message he was sending to children at church contradicted the things parents were teaching about not accepting candy from a stranger.
Finally, we learn that grandparents don’t last forever, and we cherish them even more, somehow, after they are gone. If yours are still living, make sure they know you love them even across the miles.