Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Gift of a Grandparent

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I have been so blessed to have a lot of Grandparents in my life. Between my parents and step-parents I had a total of 4 Grandmothers and 3 Grandfathers. This also brought on a wide variety of grandparent names. I had MaMaw and Papaw, Mama Lou and Daddy Bill, Na-Na, and Mop and Granddaddy. I am also an only child, with a step brother, which meant that I didn't have to share my time with my Grandparents. I enjoyed every moment with them, from the surprise trips to Chuck-E-Cheeze (which was known as ShowBiz Pizza back then) to just sitting with them and watching to news even though I had no idea what they were talking about. It was just special to be in there presence.

At Thirty years old, I still have two grandparents living. I have been thinking lately about the structure of the family and how God set up the gift of Grandparents. For the grandchild there is so much wisdom that can be gained. What better way to learn about life than from people that lived it. I would sit and listen for hours about farming, cooking, driving a milk truck, and life in general. I learned about overcoming struggles. Not the trivial struggles that we experience today such as only being able to afford a 1400 sq. ft. house, or buy a new car, or have an iPhone. My grandparents had real struggles.

From my Mama Lou and Daddy Bill I learned determination. My Daddy Bill fell out of barn silo and was told that he would never walk again. While my Mama Lou was out working the fields, since he couldn't walk, he would use the rocking chair to steady himself and taught himself to walk again. My Mama Lou was raised by a few different step mothers that made her do EVERYTHING while that sat around and went to town. She had to do all the housework, cooking, and was responsible for raising the children. She never complained about it, or used her horrible childhood as an excuse to act however she wanted. She just dealt with it moved on to have a meaningful life. She was such a blessing to so many people. I was robbed of years of learning from her. She died of breast cancer when I was 8 yrs. old. Even through the struggle of that horrible disease, she kept her bravery and grace. My grandfather lived to be 85. When my Mama Lou passed away, he learn to do all of house hold chores and became one of the best cooks I have ever known.

My MaMaw and PaPaw have taught be about true love. That kind that never fades away. My MaMaw and PaPaw were high school sweethearts. They married and had three children, my mother being the middle child. I have heard the stories about the small house they lived in that my grandfather had to make a shower in the corner of the kitchen. The stories about when he was drafted and was sent to Japan, luckily the war ended before his plane landed. The stories of the love that poured into pretty little dresses for my mother and my aunt to wear. In 1998 my PaPaw had a major heart attack and had to have eight stints put into his heart. He also got gangrene in his gallbladder and had to have it removed. He was sick for months and my MaMaw sat by him through it all, caring for him even when he didn't want to be cared for. During this time we began to notice some changes in my MaMaw. She was forgetting things, things that she would do everyday. This progressively got worse over the next 9 years. Through her battle with Alzheimer's my PaPaw cared for her in a way that only a loving husband can. They sat side by side. She wanted him with her all the time. She passed away one year ago last Sunday. This is what I will remember about them.

Lessons like these are priceless to me. I hope that I can pass these on to my children and to my own grandchildren one day. God knew what he has doing when he designed

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