Great joy in grandparents

Published 12:25 am Saturday, July 27, 2013

My mother resolved to be a good grandmother years before her grandchildren came along. She never had the privilege of knowing her own grandparents. It was a loss that she deeply felt. Even before a nurse placed my newborn son in my arms, the doctor allowed my mother to hold him. When her granddaughter arrived, she was on the scene as soon as she could get from Birmingham to Columbia, S.C., to cuddle and embrace her. Both my children have treasured memories of her and my daddy’s expressions of love for them.

My daddy’s parents lived long lives. They were married for more than 60 years. Those two never got too old to stop calling each other loving names. Their abiding love was obvious to everyone they knew.

We lived around 60 miles apart. A visit to their home was an all-day event, a special time for me. As soon as our car pulled into the yard, my grandmother rushed out to embrace and kiss us. “My nose has been itching all morning. I knew you were coming,” she would say. Daddy always grinned and winked at me, because she always said that when we arrived. My granddaddy unashamedly greeted his sons, daughters, and their spouses and each child with a bear hug and a kiss, just like my grandmother.

When cousins, aunts, uncles, and others gathered at their big drafty house in a coal mining camp, it was never in the spacious living room with uncomfortable mohair-stuffed furniture. Everyone drifted into the kitchen warmed by a wood range. Sometimes there were so many of us that we spilled over into an adjoining bedroom. Thoughts of those get-togethers—the murmur of voices, much laughter, and a feeling of belonging—warm my heart.

After one of my grandmother’s tasty meals, everyone gathered on the long front porch that ran the length of the house. Some adults sat with their feet propped on the banisters. Others lounged in the big wooden rockers that were a permanent fixture of the porch. Spasms of laughter erupted as one tall tale after another flowed among the crowd. We children played in the yard, climbed on the banisters, and pushed each other in the swing at the end of the porch.

My husband and I took our children to visit my grandparents whenever possible. Our daughter was fascinated by her great-grandmother’s long hair. She loosened her bun and allowed our thrilled little one to brush her hair. Sometimes she entertained us with poems she composed about a grandchild or great-grandchild. She never wrote one down; she just held them in her heart. A cousin captured her on video reciting them.

I am thankful for the happy memories my children and I have of grandparents and great-grandparents. They seem even more precious because I realize they are a gift my mother never had an opportunity to enjoy.