When I was young and my parents were still married, anytime they went out of town, my brother and I stayed with my grandparents. Many a weekend night I spent there for no reason at all. Meals shared at their table continues to be one of the most prominent memories I have. I vividly recall waking up to the aroma of pancake and bacon breakfasts on Saturdays, cereal and toast on weekdays, sandwiches made with toasted bread for lunch, and new recipes my grandma would try out for dinner, served at 6:30 pm.
When I think back I can see my grandma working the puzzles in the newspaper and practicing bridge on her upstairs couch in the mornings, I recollect an image of my grandpa kissing her goodbye after breakfast as he headed off to what he told me was work, but could more aptly be described as coffee with his buddies.
Their lives carried an extraordinarily comforting predictability that I craved after the demise of my parent's marriage which seemed to firmly root the rocky ground that would vividly define my adolescent years.
While no none was usually home at my house, there was nearly always someone at theirs. Their days and weeks marched to a reliable, calculable rhythm. Orange juice for breakfast, diet Pepsi during lunch for Max, water for Lamoine, a drink before dinner, Saturday night dinner club with friends, Golfing at Southwind, watering the red flowers in big pots, bowls of popcorn on weekends, the evening news, KU basketball on the t.v., leaving the bathroom light on at night so I could find my way down the hall, cinnamon carefree gum in the kitchen cabinet, a dish of chocolate covered peanuts in the living room. Always.
The life they forged in their home helped me envision the type of warmth and security I hoped to one day establish for my children.
My grandma has long been a friend of mine, passing along her recipes for custard and my favorite desserts, reading my blog, trying out my homemade cleaning concoctions, emailing me notes throughout the years that have become priceless to me. To me, she has always seemed infinitely confident and kind, marching firmly to her own beat, unapologetically sharing her opinions, making iced coffee cool decades before Starbucks ever existed, caring for me when I was little with gentle maternal affection.
It was mainly my grandpa, Max who taught me to drive a stick shift on dirt roads just north of town where 3rd street becomes no longer busy during 1988. It was their blue Cadillac I used to fail my first driving test by making a wide left turn into the outside lane in 1990. It was he who let me feather his white hair as I sat on his lap in 1980 and 1981. It was he who ordered from my "restaurant" set up on their fireplace hearth with plastic Cabbage Patch dishes in 1982. It was he that handed me a $50 bill for no reason at all after taking me out to dinner on a trip to Colorado Springs in 1994. It was he who babysat my 2 little ones, Jayla and Onyx so I could go to Curves with my grandma in Garden City in 2004. It was he who made the effort to get to his computer when walking wasn't necessarily easy in 2013 and 2014 to skype with his great grandkids where though he didn't say much, he said enough, "Tisha, I'm just glad to see you all."
I think of him now as news of his health could be better and I am glad for his investment in my life, a commitment that can only be measured with overwhelming fondness and memories and a welling up of gladness that leaks out the corner of my eyes.
The presence of grandparents in the lives of children lends an enriching tone the way no other relationship can. It is a unique gift to the heart of the child. One that carries on long after they are grown.
Thank you to my grandparents for being every great thing grandparents should be.
Max and Jayla 2007
Lamoine and Onyx 2007