Friendship Friday: Grandma!

Grandma

Sophie with her Nana, 2006.

Friendship Friday: Grandma

Welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday!  Last week we focused on my Grandpa, and this week we focus on his bride of nearly 68 years, my Grandma!

My Grandma was born Edna Atwood near Waterbury, Connecticut, and was one of the children of a local vet in the area.  Since the area she lived in was mostly farming, she learned to ride horses early on.

My Grandma would grow up to become an O.R. nurse — and a pretty good one at that from what I understand.  Back in those days, when a patient was in the hospital, they hired their own nurses to take care of them, and my Grandpa’s father, who needed to have gallbladder surgery, hired her to help take care of him after his surgery (my Grandma had also been in on the actual surgery.)

It was during this time that my Grandpa met my Grandma, and began a romance that would last for a lifetime.

I have heard a lot of stories about my childhood from my Grandma, perhaps my favorite one was the time — when they lived in Buffalo, NY — when my Grandma bought me a hotdog with ketchup, and told me to make sure I held onto that hot dog really tight.  Well, I held it so tight that the hot dog shot out of the bun onto the floor!

My Grandma and Grandpa are a blessing in my life, even now, despite the fact that they have both been called to Heaven.  My Grandpa used to make my Grandma so angry!  He told us the story once that her family was wealthy — so wealthy that they had servants!  The true story is that my Grandma’s mom passed away really young, and my Grandma — who was the oldest if I remember correctly — had to keep the house because of that.  In order to help them out, they did have a lady who came by to help with the housekeeping, but it wasn’t at all like they had servants!

My Grandpa was a little like me — or rather, I’m a little like him.  Both of us are guilty of not having a whole lot of smarts at times!  I remember the time my Grandma told us the story about Grandpa ticking her off about something.  Grandma could be devious at times, so she let it lie for a while, then later on she suggested that they go for a horseback ride.  By this time my Grandma was an old pro at riding a horse, but Grandpa wasn’t as good.  When Grandma and Grandpa got on their horses, Grandma took off on her horse, and Grandpa’s followed nearly as quickly!  My Grandpa learned a valuable lesson that day — but he also forgot it on more then one occasion over the years also! :)

Sophie was born when my Grandma was 87 years old, and it was extremely important to Cindy that we bring Sophie down to Florida to meet Grandma and Grandpa as early as we could.  As a result, little Sophie took her first trip to Florida at the tender age of 7 weeks old.  We had already planned on staying at a hotel, so we checked in first and settled in before coming over.  I remember as we were heading to my Grandma’s house that it started pouring rain!  Grandma knew we were on our way because we called first, and when we got there, Grandma was waiting in the garage with the door open, umbrella at hand, waiting to help Cindy and Sophie get into the house.

My Grandpa was also like me in that he was both an old softie, and a hopeless romantic at times!  I’ll never forget one time when we were visiting, Grandpa came in from the garden, red rose in hand, which he proceeded to give my Grandma.  She said, “Ah, Dad.” (They called each other Mom and Dad) and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  When she saw me watching them, she blushed and looked at me and said “Yes, we still do that!”

My Grandma was the rock of our family, especially after they retired.  Grandpa was stricken with pancreatic cancer — and survived it — but he also had macular degeneration and hearing loss, so he wasn’t able to drive anymore.  My Grandma did all the driving when it was just the two of them, she had the greater energy, and she did her crossword puzzles.  They watched their baseball games on TV together, and they did all of these things together.

In the end, though, it was my Grandma who would end up having the frailer body.  Grandma passed away in March 2007, just a few days before her 93rd birthday.  After she passed away, Grandpa moved to Virginia with Mom and Dad.  I’m going to close with two pictures from after Grandma passed away.  In the first you have my Grandpa and Mom, Father and Daughter, doing what they did best — taking care of one another.  In the second picture you have a family picture in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Florida.

Grandma

Grandpa and Mom, holding hands, after Grandma’s Memorial Service.

 

Grandma

Dad, Uncle Roger, Stephanie, Aunt Sadie, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bob, Aunt Bette

At the end of this long post, I urge you all, if you still have your Grandparents in your life, to take a moment, pick up the phone, and give them a call and tell them you love them.  Or, if they are close enough, go over and visit with them.  All of my Grandparents are now in Heaven, and I miss them.  Looking at the pictures in this post, the memories return anew, and I found myself wiping tears from my eyes that I thought had all been shed.  I never realized in the picture of my Mom and Grandpa just how prophetic that picture was.  Grandpa looked after Mom and helped her to learn to walk and talk again, and now, in his later years, my Mom was there for him, taking him by the hand, helping him when needed, and yes, getting aggravated by him as much as my Grandma was at times.

Remember, take a moment, give them a call or stop by and see them.  You are blessed to have them, just as those of us that have lost our Grandparents were blessed to have them.  Never take them for granted, any of our family members.

This series is the brainchild of my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  To take a look at who she is featuring this week in her post, just click on the image below!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday: My Grandpa!

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday.  Today I have another one of the special people in my life — my Grandpa!

Grandpa and I have always been buddies — for as long as I can remember.  Grandpa worked at United Airlines for 41 years, stepping down in 1978.  Gramps was assigned to different airports by United as their Chief Maintenance Manager (or something like that) — so he and Grandma and Mom and Aunt Bette and Uncle Roger were always travelling to different states.

My Grandpa was assigned to work at the United Airlines Hangar for the then unopened Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.  It was Grandpa’s job to make sure that the United hangar was ready for business when the airport opened up.  It was while Grandpa and all the family were there that my Mom and Dad met and got married!

When I was born, my Grandma and Grandpa were living in Buffalo, NY, where Grandpa was in charge of the hangar at the airport there.  I don’t remember Buffalo much because I was young, but my Grandma always told the story that I would be off somewhere, and they would find me playing with the toads that I would find over by the cellar windows outside.

After Buffalo, my Grandpa was stationed at the last airport he worked at before retirement — Newark, located in Newark, NJ.  My Grandparents lived in Berkeley Heights, NJ, and I remember our trips north to visit Grandma and Grandpa there.  It was then that Grandpa and I started forging our bond.  We would go to the airport and look at the planes land from the observation deck — back in the days when you could go to the airport, park, and watch planes all day if you wanted to!

Grandpa had so much knowledge about the airplanes.  He would look at one and say — there’s a DC-10, or a 727, or a 737, or, of course, a 747.  It was great to see him in action, and I learned a few things about planes back then.

In October 1978, I believe it was, Grandpa retired, and Grandma and he began their last move — to Port Richey, Florida!  It was there that my fun with Grandma and Grandpa would begin in earnest!

In 1979 My Mom, sister Robin, and I flew down to visit Grandma and Grandpa.  Dad was a self-employed cabinetmaker, so unfortunately he didn’t have much time off, so he stayed behind.

It was during that summer visit that I got my first visit to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom!  I’ve forgotten some of the details, but the one thing that I never forgot was what I wrote about for my friend Donna from DISTherapy for her 40 days to 40 years project in 2011:

As you pass under the railroad tracks, somehow, Walt Disney has magically taken you out of the here and now, and transported you back to a different time, a different place, where small town Americana is alive and well; where Main Street isn’t just the name of a street, but it is a place to hang out with your friends, where you can eat, shop, and even catch a movie.  As you gaze at all of the incredible buildings, you are taken aback at how long Main Street, U.S.A. is.  It seems like it goes on forever!  But you peer at the end of the street, and what do you see?  This magical castle waiting for you, beckoning you to take a look at it, daring you to even go inside of it!  You have heard about that castle, how it is Cinderella Castle, and belongs to her.  You have read about how you can walk all the way through the castle, and come out in Fantasyland.  You have even heard that you can even have a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table — but that memory is for another trip.

After that first summer, my Grandma and Grandpa started asking if I wanted to visit with them during the summer months when school was out.  Hello!  Of course I said yes!  I remember the first time I drove down with them, and I had been visiting for a while when my Grandpa said, “Mickey, when do you think you want to go back home?”  I thought for a while, then I said something to the affect that school started September 5th, so I guess I needed to be home a couple of days before so I could get school clothes.  I think my Grandpa thought I was homesick, but how could I be?  I had my buddy with me!  And did I mention it was Florida?!

Grandpa and I did so many things together.  We took care of the neighbor’s pool together — so we could swim in it.  We learned how to swim together.  We would go to the library and check out a book on a particular swimming stroke, and we would read a page by the pool, then go check it out in the water to see how it worked.  During that summer, we learned all the major swimming strokes!

We would go to the beach together while Grandma was playing Bridge with the ladies.

My Grandpa was — and is — an inspiration to me to this day.  He and Grandma lived through so many things — the Great Depression, wars, the Cold War, uncertainty, illness — yet they never wavered from who they were, and what they believed.  That is a lesson for all of us in this day and age.

My Mom is the oldest of my Grandma and Grandpa’s three children.  When she was one or two years old, she got bitten by a mosquito and became extremely ill.  My Mom had to learn how to talk again, and she had to learn how to walk again.  Through all of that, my Grandma and Grandpa were there, helping her, guiding her along as she learned the things she needed to learn again.  My Grandpa would work with her when he got home from work — all the patience in the world.  Infinitely more patience then I have, that’s for sure.

We are all miracles, but I think some of us are a little more of a miracle then others.  When I think back on how sick my Mom was as a baby, just the fact that Robin and I were even able to come into this world is a testament to God’s Power and Strength — and his Mercy.  Carry that forward, and it is obvious to me that Sophie is a miracle of her own — so tiny, such a little baby, but now an 11 year old.  None of us are perfect, that is certain, but the blessings we have — in my mind, they outweigh the problems we have so much, if we just choose to see them.

At the end, my Grandpa passed away the way I think we all would like to pass on — at home, in his bed, with his family by his side, singing him Happy Birthday one last time.  My Grandpa was born on September 4, 1913, and he passed away on September 4, 2011, and the tender age of 98.

Gone…but never, EVER, forgotten.  I love you Grandpa.

My friend Heidi is the inspiration behind the Friendship Friday series for me!  She even lets me link up with her site each week!  Click on the image below to see what friend she is highlighting today, and thanks for stopping by!

Friendship Friday: Meet my Mom!

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friendship Friday, the weekly series where I share with all of you information about a special person in my life.  My first Friendship Friday was about my Sister-in-Christ Brenda, the next one was about my best friend, my wife Cindy, and last week’s post was about my wonderful daughter Sophie.  Today I’ve got another woman in my life that I want to write about — my Mom.

My Mom Ellen is a great woman.  She is the oldest child of three that my Grandma and Grandpa had, and she has had to be strong many times over the course of her life.  She is a miracle — she survived a really scary childhood illness that forced her to have to learn how to talk and walk again; she survived a very scary condition after my Grandma passed away a few years back — in fact, she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of my Dad, but that’s a story for another day.  She has battled so many things over the course of her life (including me sometimes) — but the one thing that she has never done is backed down from what she believed was right.

My Mom has had to do a lot of things over the years, including care for her parents.  Grandma and Grandpa are both gone now, enjoying their time in Heaven with Jesus, but before they left, they had Mom there, looking after them as best she could, first in Florida, and then, when Grandma passed away, in Virginia with my Grandpa moving into Mom and Dad’s home.

When I look at my Mom, I see the best of both of my Grandparents in her.  I see the stubbornness that my Grandma had at times, along with a little dose of “If you want something, go get it yourself!”  The funny thing was that, when my Grandma was younger, if she came to our house to visit, then she took over the kitchen.  When they got older, and we would go to her house to visit, she would tell us we knew where it was, to help ourselves.  We picture her getting to Heaven and telling Jesus if he wanted anything He knew where it was, go help Himself!  My Mom, thankfully, has developed a little bit of that herself.

In addition to the qualities of my Grandma that I see in Mom, I also see some of my Grandpa in her.  Those qualities are more about her carefree attitude with things.  Mom can get upset about things, that much is certain, but her laughter, which is often evident, reminds me of Grandpa.

Now that my Grandparents have moved on to Heaven, I’ve seen a welcome change come over my Mom.  She is more carefree — she and Dad are taking more small trips then they used to, they are enjoying their lives as husband and wife together perhaps a bit more.  It’s not like they didn’t enjoy themselves before, and that they wished that Grandpa didn’t live there — that’s not it at all.  It’s just that they are able to do things that they just weren’t able to do before.  It’s hard to explain, and I’m doing a lousy job I’m sure, but I’m glad that they have been able to do these things, and I look forward to hearing about their journeys on this stage of their lives for many years to come.

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for Mom.  I may not tell you every day, Mom, but I love you, and each day Sophie grows, I learn more about the kind of parents you and Dad were to Robin and I.  I love you, Mom, and I hope you have enjoyed being the center of attention today.

Special thanks goes out to my friend Heidi from Heidi’s Head — it was from Heidi that I first learned about this special series that she does every week.  If you want to read who she is writing about this week, just click on the image below!  Thanks for stopping by, and for learning more about my Mom.