This week has been a crazy work week. I have worked 13 days in a row and it will probably be more like 18 or 19 straight days before I can be in a place to take some time off. I’m working on a big project building an intranet system for my workplace. Then I have to train each of our 180 employees on how to use the system. So in about a month, I’ll be in a better place.
But even with all the work, it didn’t keep me from remembering two very special people this week. My paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother.
It’s been about 15 years since my grandfather (my father’s dad) passed away. He was born on February 14, 1921 – Valentine’s Day. I always think of him each year when Valentine’s Day comes around. Not that I don’t think of him at other times, he just seems to cross my mind a little more around this particular holiday. Actually, I think its ironic that he was born on a day that celebrates the giving and showing of love. It’s safe to say that he was not the best at sharing his feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that my Papa loved me and the rest of my family – he just wasn’t very skilled at showing that emotion. He was grumpy and stubborn, quiet and bad-tempered. But as long as you didn’t interrupt a Braves baseball game you were welcome in his house. Papa was truly made complete the day he married my grandmother. The term “other half” was never more true. He relied on her for everything through their 55 year marriage. From cleaning to cooking to raising their 8 children and waiting on him hand and foot, she did everything. Honestly, you can’t talk about Papa without bringing Grandma into the conversation. But even in all his ornery ways, he was a likable, endearing and humorous character. Like the time the washer broke and he said he’d fix it. Well, he went to the laundry room and came back out 5 minutes later only to ask my Grandma, “Which one’s the washer?” Or the time I was visiting and Grandma spent all morning cooking an entire spread for lunch. Papa walked in the door from work and said, “Fix me a Slim Fast Bea.” And then there was also the time he went to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of tea. He started filling the glass and then said, “Whoa Bea, that’s enough.” He was so used to her pouring his drinks that he spoke to her out of habit even though HE was the one holding the pitcher… go figure… Papa was the only grandfather I was blessed to know. And despite the fact that he was a hard man, I know there was a small soft spot in his heart saved for me.
On February 15, 1998 my grandmother (my mom’s mother) passed away. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years. My Nanny lived a hard life. She survived a rough childhood filled with alcoholism, poverty, and divorce. She lost a brother in World War II and a mother to mental illness. She had 4 children and also struggled through her own bouts with alcoholism, depression and marital difficulties. But by the time I came along, you would have never guessed all that about her. Sure she was challenged by health problems but my mother tells me she was a different person, a better person. To me she was the one that made the best toast in the world and always managed to attend all my important milestones like birthdays and graduations. Nanny loved to see me coming in the door and just like any grandmother – always offered food. She would sleep with the TV on at night and loved pastel colors. She played every radio contest known to man and would drive for miles to find the cheapest gas. She loved flea markets and yard sales. Her favorite poem was Trees by Joyce Kilmer. And when I would leave she would always say goodbye with a pat on the shoulder saying, “Well, I’m proud to see you. Come back soon.” After she passed away, my mother was going through some of her things and found that the only picture she had in her wallet was of me. It was a small reminder of the love I know she had for me.
I tell you, knowing these two people has enriched my life. I miss them, but I am comforted by the fact that I know they are watching over me and with me every day. I will see them again some day.
Oh child, precious one, with each breath know you are loved. But you say “How long ‘til I can come home, ‘til I can rest in your arms again.” And I say “Not long but don’t miss this life and I’ll be waiting ‘til then.” “Live with the wonder of a child, pray with your arms thrown open wide, love with a love that has no end, until I see you again.” -Mark Schultz