The Other Side Of The Family

I had an idea once.  It was pretty good.  I thought.  I called my Grandma, who happens to be my mom’s mom and said “hey, Grandma, I have a great idea for a gift for my mom for her birthday this year.”   I was so on this!  I called in March or April.   I wanted to meet with her and Grandpa and talk about their incredible life together.  Over sixty years.   12 children.  More experiences than I could ever write about.  But I wanted to capture something.  Give mom a nice present for her birthday in December.

Grandma said she would talk to Grandpa and call me back.

A day or two later Grandma calls.  She said “Colleen I have a great idea!  Why don’t you come here and talk to Grandpa and me and we’ll write a story.  We’ll give it to the kids for Christmas!”

I’m pretty sure she was messing with me.  I said I would love too!

We started meeting in May 1991.

I went to their house.  Grandpa was sick.  I went to the hospital.  We talked.  And talked.  And talked.  I was totally enraptured in their story.  They didn’t hold back.  We talked about everything we could think of.   I spent months writing and rewriting.  To my recollection only one of the aunts knew about it.  She was helping get everything together.  Printed.  Copies.  We had one of my cousins do an illustration of their home for the cover of the story.

I relived so many moments with them.  Moments I can never fully appreciate, and  that were gone to them.  But for their memories.  Moments of the kind of life I will never have the pleasure of experiencing.  A kind of life where you worked through whatever came at you, you dealt with it together.  That was the only option.  You laughed together.  You cried together.  You depended on one another.  They shared ideals for family and church.  They built their family on that foundation.

There is so much that they shared with me.

The time I spent with them was a lesson I wish I had learned much earlier in life.  A lesson I hope to share with my children and their children.  ASK!  Find out about your parents and grandparents.  Spend as much time with them as you can.  Find out everything that they know!  They hold so much.  I wish I had asked them more.  I wish I had asked my other grandparents more.  I wish I had half of the memories they had!  Sadly I have but a fraction.

No matter where you go in life, where you come from matters.  The good and the bad of it all.  When people are married for over sixty years and they are happy we should all be talking to them.   Learning.

Sadly, Grandpa died in September of that year.  Before he got to give the finished story to his kids.   But Grandma did give it to them.  She enjoyed their reactions.  And I enjoyed the moments I shared with them.  It was probably one of the best ideas I ever had (but then kind of didn’t).

I’ll share some of their stories.

I hope you close this blog and go ask your grandparents a question.  If you don’t have them to ask, take a moment and share a memory with your child.  Your niece.  Your grandchild.   Write it down.

It matters to someone.  Even if they don’t know it yet.

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Credit for sketch goes to my cousin.  I just don’t know if he wants his name on here.   🙂