Butterscotch and Cinnamon Discs, Caramels and Green Peppermints- these are the sweet memories of my grandparents’ candy dish. I remember when I finally saw a Werther’s commercial, it featured a man who was sharing a childhood story of enjoying this candy with his own grandfather and in remembering how special it was for him, he was now keeping the tradition with his own grandson. Listen, I can tell you the fact that this was and still is the marketing ploy that this brand stands on almost 40 years later is a true testament of its timeless relevancy. That the quest to recreate this special moment is what made it appealing, the rich caramel flavor was an added bonus. Now apply this to every other moment shared with a grandparent; fishing, hunting, cooking, sewing, writing, reading, the list goes on.
RELATED READING :: Here’s To Grandparents Day
It’s no secret that we often hold dear the person and the memory of learning or doing those things for the first time. It becomes a reverberating part of our story, we will find ourselves saying about our methods and techniques, our preferences and our principles, “Oh my grandmother/grandfather taught/told me…”. I love when this happens for me because I feel like I’m honoring my elders as I’m sharing, creating and living with the things they’ve so graciously poured into me.
Parenting as we know can be so rewarding, we all hope for the days to look proudly upon our adult children and see them healthy, happy and whole- we’re all doing the best we can to try and set them up for that. I love that because of family, we’re not alone in that, the very people who helped us find our way can do the same for our children. As witness to the relationships our kids have with our parents, I am so moved by how at all ages and stages they really cherish every moment and opportunity to just be with their grandparents. To talk to them, to listen and learn from them. It is equally warming to also see your parent accept the special role that grandparents have to leave lasting legacies full of stories, traditions and love that will linger from generation to generation. That feeling has never gone away for me, even at 38 years old with my mom being just a few blocks over, I still miss being with my grandparents. So this summer I packed my bags for a week and went to do just that.
Priceless. Precious. Paw-Paw.
My grandmother showed me how to peel potatoes and snap peas, my grandfather showed me how to pick and wash greens. She taught me how to use hot water to make a cornbread dish, he taught me how to use hot water to quickly skin a fish. Crossword puzzles and soap operas, cartoons and no cable, week long jigsaws that stretched across the dining table. So much food, music and games- so many stories, so many names. I could not wait to relive it all again, except this summer visit would not be about me, but how I could serve him and sit at his feet. I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to prepare him meals from the soul, some of which he poured into me long ago. To just sit with him and listen to blues, quickly remembering that I got that love from him too. The music it carried him down memory lane, these stories were untold and they kept us up late. I quickly determined I needed to preserve every bit and so I expedited a “Grandparent’s Journal” to document. We walked through his childhood beginning to end, his memory is impeccable- he recalls his first friend. It was like opening a gift only to find another inside, the more I learned about him, the more I filled with pride. He shared about his life, his strengths and his flaws, the humility and nobility that allowed him to stand tall. I could not have imagined that from this little vacation, I’d walk away looking at him with greater admiration. He’s always been grand to me, he’s always been good, he’s always showed up in the ways that he could. But this was different, this was gold, this opportunity to ensure that HIS story was told. I solicited him for advice, tips and perspective, I soaked up his words, his wisdom reflective. He was enjoying this, his mood was effervescent, never underestimate the power of simply being present. As our grandparents slow down while our lives move so fast, it is important that we don’t make that relationship a thing of the past. We had a family dinner, he ate and he laughed, when it was time for everyone to leave- he even got a little sad. He let us take pictures, we were laughing with tears- forgetting for a moment just how funny he is. I’ll never forget him though, like who he really is and his true measure. This priceless time with my “Paw-Paw” is a reminder that grandparents are truly a treasure. Oh and before I forget, I ate all the vintage candies from my grandpa’s candy dish!
My grandpa has over 20 grand kids and a whole host of great grands and even a nice size squad of great-great grands! (I’ll count them all one day) This is so special and for most families, extremely rare. This is a perk of being 93 and it is a two-way blessing for us. My grandfather has been loving on our now teen girls since they were just preemies in the NICU. I remember how much it meant to me that he traveled to come meet Cymari and Cymone even though he had already decided that he would wait to hold them since they were smaller than his ginormous hands. Then a few years ago he moved to Texas and he had the chance to spend a lot of time each week hanging with preschool age Micah and then with our youngest Melysse from birth. Each time they’d come back from his house excited about a story he told/retold or just a joy about the memories they were making with him of their very own. I love the way he lights up when they talk to him, how he watches them and gets so tickled at their quick wits and mannerisms. I’m so happy that they all get to experience him in a different but still precious way. I love that they get to know him and that he gets to love them and vis versa. He is now loving in real life FOUR generations of HIS, what a great honor and privilege.
Life must end, Love doesn’t.
There is an African proverb that says “We desire to bequest two things to our children–the first one is roots; the other one is wings.” My maternal grandmother passed on a few years ago and though I long to sit with her once more, I carry many of her words and her ways everywhere I go. I often say that I wish she could have met our youngest Melysse who is every bit of inquisitive, independent and fierce JUST like granny liked us! She made each of us feel like we were her favorite (what a sweet discovery in conversations had during the weekend of her funeral)- this was her gift. To make you feel big in a room of a dozen other grandkids without making anyone else feel small. To give you what felt like special attention but not miss a beat with anyone else. As a mom of four now, I wish she was here so I could at least figure out how she managed that! If your grandparents are no longer living, I encourage you to keep their memory alive by seeking out stories about their lives and sharing them with your children. There is a strength in knowing our ancestry and not so much the blood we come from- but the love we come from. For me, I’m inspired to be the things that I love the most about her and I stand on the same faith that she did, and because of that I can do anything that I need to do, especially when it comes to being a mother. So it’s not some farfetched ideal for me to do hard things for the sake of my family or even for myself because in most cases I can say, “as a matter of fact, my granny did that”.
Love who you love, while you can.
Make the call. Make the trip. Make the time. As moms we all know, it is fleeting. It made me feel so blessed to be able to kiss the soft wrinkles on the strong cheekbones of my grandfather just one more time until I get to see him again in a few months.
To all of the Grandparents, Greats and even Greater, Happy Grandparent’s Day! May you feel as special and important as you are today and for the rest of your days!