Memories from 30 years with my Grandparents

My heart breaks even writing the title of this post. Selfishly, my grandparents were to be here until Baby Caff got here and I was able to get that 4 generation picture that I had always dreamed about having to share with my kids.

Unfortunately, we lost both of my grandparents in about 18 hours. I know I won’t forget the memories but I feel like I need to write them down so that I can share them some day with my children.

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandparents resulting in more memories than I could even count. Visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house were always frequent when we were little but overnight stays were a treat. We knew that late night stays or overnight visits meant that we could eat whatever we wanted and stay up late watching tv. Many of those late night visits resulted in mom and dad moving us from our place on the floor, where we had fallen asleep to the car.

Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Playschool camper, and empty spools were the toys that were stored in the back bedroom in ice cream buckets. We knew where they were and we were always allowed to go get them when we wanted to play as long as we put them away.

Springtime always brought about the planting of the garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers were some of the highlights of the summer. The fence always seemed to get higher too as squirrels and other animals seemed to always get into the garden.

Grandma and Grandpa’s house always smelled of flowers. The lilacs in the spring and the roses into the summer and fall. The roses were always huge blooms and smelled so good. They were all different colors too. Red. Pink. Yellow. All gorgeous and will always bring back floods of memories.

Another treat of going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house was getting to watch tv. We always watched shows that we didn’t watch at home. During the day, we would watch the Price is Right and Matlock. The volume was always turned up really loud so Grandpa could hear it and you couldn’t really talk to each other in the room. Grandma had her favorites too, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. She was good at solving the puzzles. Reds baseball and Hoosier basketball were always favorites too. Dusty Baker was a horrible manager in case you were wondering and there was a difference between baseball before and after the strike. When I got older, I was allowed to go to the basement to watch tv if I wanted. Grandma and Grandpa had cable and we didn’t at our house. I would go to the basement and watch Little House on the Prairie and MTV.

When it comes to food, there are so many memories. Early morning visits meant that we got to go with Grandpa to McDonalds for the morning. We had the choice of pancakes or cinnamon rolls. I always got the cinnamon rolls. Lunch time meant it was either White Castles or Arby’s 5 for 5 deals. If it was Arby’s, those roast beef sandwiches always came with an abundance of horsey and Arby’s sauce packets.  For those times when mom and dad would go out at night, we knew it was root beer to drink from the refrigerator in the garage, ice cream from the carton, open on one end, and cut with a knife, and popcorn from the air popper in red, yellow, green and blue bowls.

During my junior year of high school, I had basketball practice later in the day. I would drive to their house instead of coming all the way home because it was closer. There are so many memories from that year. Grandma would make sure that my nails looked nice but that they weren’t too long for me to play ball. If she wasn’t doing that, she was sitting on the floor with her back on her chair, playing solitaire, with the cards that fit just right in her hand while we talked about what happened during the day. Grandpa would come in from the garage or outside mowing the grass, pop his left leg over the arm of the chair and we would sit and talk about school or he would tell stories. There was always food if I wanted it but Grandma knew that it was normally a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It wouldn’t make me sick at practice.

As we grew up, the more we remembered the stories that Grandpa told. Sometimes we heard the same stories over again multiple times. When we were little, it was stories about the war and memories of him growing up.  As I approached college, he started to tell me more stories about his time in college after the war. As I started my career in education, we would talk more about the education system and the differences between the schools where we worked. When Sean and I got engaged there were stories from both Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma was an old maid but she said I wasn’t even though we were about the same age when we got married. Grandpa told me about his tradition of getting Grandma roses. It was always one for each year until it became too expensive so he would get one for each decade and one for each year. When I moved to Maryland, Grandpa would tell me about the shipyard when the USS Lackawanna was built in Baltimore and his short time there before boarding the ship.

Each year at Christmas, dinner was always huge. I would crawl into my place between the wall and the table in a chair, a lot of times next to Grandma. Across the table was mom and Aunt Bev. We would be stuffed and pie would have to wait many years until after we opened presents. The pecan pie was what I looked forward to the most. After dinner, I remember trying to clean up the kitchen as fast as we could to go to the basement and open gifts. The moment the door to the basement was opened and we could see the tree with all of the gifts was one my favorites. I always looked forward to Christmas with the whole family. When we were little we would go home, while Grandma and Grandpa would go to church for the candlelight service. As we got older and could stay awake for the service, we started to attend the service as well. Grandpa wouldn’t always stay awake during the whole service and we weren’t sure if Grandma was going to burn down the church. When I moved away, at church, I was put on Grandma duty and to make sure that she didn’t burn down the church. It always made me nervous.

Selfishly, I wanted them to be here until Baby Caff arrives in March. Even more I wanted them to be here in early July when we plan to bring the baby home to meet the whole family. I will never forget after being at the doctor for my 12 week appointment and hearing the baby’s heartbeat. I couldn’t wait to leave to call them. They were the first call I made on my way home that day. Grandpa’s reaction “Well, it’s about time.” I could tell that they were both excited for us to start a family.

This only scratches the surface of the memories that I have with my grandparents. More could be added to this list as I remember more or more post could be coming soon. For now, this is what I am hanging on to as we continue to power through a tradition that Grandpa loved, volunteering at the Salvation Army for the Christmas giveaway this weekend.

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