In honor of Grandparents...thank youGrandparents-
I was so blessed as a child, having two sets of grandparents to dote on me- especially because I was the only grandchild. Spoiled was an understatement. Not with things but rather with experience, and wealth of knowledge that only they could share with me. The Kellers lived on a wheat farm and farmed rye, wheat, and a oversized vegetable garden that would make any gardener green with envy. Now the Shays were upscale city folk that enjoyed fine dinning and the art of entertaining their guests. You could say I got the best from both worlds ( sadly I didn't truly appreciate this until I was much older). I saw my grandparents weekly if not multiple times a week. So when I started a family of my own, not having grandparents at an arms reach was an uncomfortable reality. Because of my own experiences, I vowed to myself, my children and their grandparents that despite the miles we would remain close. When the children were tiny I would send out a monthly newsletter and pictures to keep everyone updated on the big steps my wee ones were making from rolling over, to first steps and even potty training was worth writing home to grandma. Soon came hand and foot prints made with paint and plaster. As they grew, swirled color danced on a folded note stamped and sealed with a kiss. It hasn't been easy, missing birthdays, holidays, or the first loose tooth, but keeping in touch has made it manageable for everyone.
My children are not only lucky to have two sets of grandparents but four great grandparents too. So when it comes to making the most of the little moments and memories we are all about that. As soon as they could write, grandparents and great grandparents would receive hand written letters ( or scribbles ) not on holidays but on any days, because its nice to be remembered throughout the year too. It took some thought, but now it has become second nature. Whenever our children achieved a personal milestone, it was a good time to bring our beloved grandparents into our little celebration. So we used those times as way to connect, reconnect and keep communication open. As we've grown I can say that each one of my children has a special connection to a extra special grandparent, and to see that relationship bloom warms my heart. I know my children will never have the relationship like I did with my grandparents, but this is their story and it is very special to them.
I love hearing them reiterate stories they've heard, or ask me if I was around back then, but my favorite is when they relate their world to the childhood they envision their grandparents having. A world so far away from the one they know and understand, yet they hang on to every word with fascination in their eyes. I feel like the relationship they have has given them a deep sense of roots, history and home.
( Great Grandpa Cauldwell, 97 years young )
They love hearing where their family came from and how delicate and challenging life really was " in the olden days". The best thing about the hand written letters, phone calls, school fundraisers and a multitude of firsts, is that it has built a bridge. And slowly they see how amazing their grandparents really are, how no matter the occasion they make you feel heard and special, and they are not the ones giving, they are receiving. Receiving an emotional appreciation for their opportunities, experiences and lifestyle that they have. Holding steadfast to qualities like honor, respect, service, strength and grace. A treasury of stories, jokes and tattered black and white photographs. A sense of connection that spans over many many decades encircling both grandchild and grandparent with love.
Now just under a year ago we had to say, "see you later" to my most dearest and beloved grandfather of 96 years . He was my knight in shining armor and I am so blessed to have gotten to share my amazing children, who are all name sakes by the way, with him. Every Sunday since I was 19, I called my Papa around 10 am. We both looked forward to it, and we mainly talked about the weather, the kids and then an endearing exchange of "love you". Our loss made us all realize it only takes a second to pick up the phone and say I love you, or hand write a letter because some grandparents aren't into all the new technology. Grandparents can be a child's greatest joy, their stories a vault of treasures, and their love, an undeniable inspiration! Make time to say I Love You. To all of the grandparents out there, to our grandparents and above all to the first love of my life- my Papa. Thank you for everything, we love and appreciate you!