I was so lucky to have all four of my grandparents in my life throughout my childhood and into college. It wasn’t until just before my junior year of college that my Grandma and Grandpa M, my mom’s parents, passed away. My Grandpa S passed away almost five years ago, and my Grandma S is still with us.
My memories of time with Grandparents growing up take different shape. My Dad’s parents lived only about 70 miles away from us, so I got to see them fairly often. They owned a jewelry store and I remember passing many hours watching my Grandparents work. One of my fondest memories of their store is using the “rollie-chair” (as I called it) to roll over sheets of bubble wrap – it was fabulous! My Grandpa pierced my ears when my parents finally said I was old enough. I also remember that they always had a lot of stray cats around in their neighborhood, and often a momma cat and babies living in this little “den” that was built into the outside of their house. (I’ve never quite figured out why it was there.) I spent many hours catching the stray kittens – and getting scratched up by them!
My Mom’s parents lived in Tucson, Arizona, so a far drive from my Texas Panhandle home. Although visits with both grandparents were special and I cherish the memories of them both, even as a kid, visits with my Grandparents on my Mom’s side (either in Tucson or when they came to see us) took on a special, magical air – because they were sparse. I remember many hours spent with my Grandpa in his vegetable garden outside their house, and even more hours spent sitting at the kitchen table with both Grandpa and Grandma playing Rummikub or some other game. I remember these two huge saguaro cacti that they had in their front yard, and how excited I would be to see them as we pulled up in front of their house. One year when we were there at Christmas, it actually snowed in Tucson. That was a Christmas I’ll never forget!
Amidst all the memories, I have to say that I am most grateful for the spiritual lessons that I learned from my Grandparents. The lessons were drastically different, but equally incredible. My Mom’s dad was a Baptist pastor (and retired army chaplain – a Lieutenant Colonol), and my Mom’s mom was his true helpmate. Both had a heart for people and a heart for ministry. Had their health been better, I think both would have been on the foreign mission field, as they spent many hours reading about and praying for foreign missionaries. From my Tucson Grandparents, I learned about a steady, passionate faith that blanketed every area of life.
On the other hand, my Dad’s father was a self-proclaimed atheist for as long as I can remember. Many years later, I learned that my Dad’s mother had been raised in church as a childhood and was a Christian, but this was a side of her that I did not see until I was an adult. My Grandpa would not come inside the church, so we learned to plan around this when they came to visit. The first time I ever saw my Grandpa in a church was for my sister’s wedding when I was 19. In my mid-20’s and after many years of prayers from dozens of people, my Grandpa slowly began attending church with my Grandma, who had decided several years before that she wanted to go back to church. In my early 30’s, my Grandpa gave his life to God – perhaps one of the best days of my life. It was just a few years later that my Grandpa passed away – I am so glad that God kept on loving him through all those years, and that I know I’ll get to see him in heaven one day. So it was from my Texas Grandparents that I learned that God never, ever gives up on us, and that His gift of grace is there, waiting for us to accept it. I learned faith – and that there is hope for everyone.
What a blessing it has been for me to have four precious grandparents in my life. Thank you, Lord, for each one of them.