I had the privilege of growing up next door to my paternal grandparents. Never has any kid been so lucky as to have the people who love you the best and without restraint, in the house just across the back yard. My other set of grandparents lived twenty minutes away and I didn’t realize at the time how fortunate I was to have two sets of grandparents so nearby. I made most of my mistakes with my parents and siblings, but all too often I disappointed or frustrated my grandparents as well. A part of my mind knew this. Yet, my heart did not grasp that same concept.
My grandmother had the kindest eyes, the softest hands and the biggest heart of anyone I knew. She didn’t buy me expensive toys, she simply let me play with her old blocks and dress my dolls in her old doll clothes.
She didn’t take me to McDonald’s for Happy Meals or up the street to Pizza Hut. She simply made the best meatloaf ever and let me choose from her vast array of cold cereal when I was hungry.
My grandfather told my brothers and sisters and I wonderful stories about hiking Three Falls, the legend of Crack Foot and all about what he’d buy when he won Publishers clearing House. I sat through the evening news with him and never understood why he like the weather so much, but I loved being with him.
My fondest memories when I was a kid were centered around my grandparents, their house and their un compromising love.
My children don’t have the same blessing with their grandparents that I did. Both my Dad and Erik’s mom have passed on. My step father is a wonderful grandfather though, and my father-in-law, likewise love my boys. These good men remind me to be patient with young, growing boys. Too love without judgement and to enjoy what I’ve got while I have it.
My mother, the only Grandma my kids know, doesn’t live next door, cook perfect meatloaf or provide a source to whom my kids can escape to find comfort…
She does come to their sports events, make the best funeral potatoes and take care of them with an open heart and endless patience. At times I listen to my boys talk about her and just shake my head. “That’s not how I was raised,” I tell them. “When I was your age she was tough, demanding, and she ruled with an iron fist.”
“Like you, mom?” they ask in all innocence.
“Yeah,” I remind myself. “Just like me.”
Someday, thanks to my mom, my In-laws, my Step Father and My grandparents, I hope to be the Grandma who loves, accepts and nurtures my grand children. And if I’m really good at it my kids will say to their children, “That’s not how she was when I was growing up.”
Then I’ll smile and remind myself, “This is how my Grandparents were. Mission accomplished.”