To become a grandparent

Ryan's wife Marlea snapped this photo of their children, Kate and Everett, with my parents enjoying their great and grand blessings

Ryan’s wife Marlea snapped this photo of their children, Kate and Everett,
with my parents enjoying their great and grand blessings

“To become a grandparent is to enjoy one of the few pleasures in life for which the consequences have already been paid.” Robert Brault

My nephew Ryan sent me this photo recently and I loved it instantly.  Since Jeff and I will soon be grandparents for the first time, I thought a post about grandchildren might be in order.  But since I’ve never yet been a grandparent, I know the relationship best from the standpoint of the grandchild.

I remember laughing at Bill Cosby saying all of us are still alive today because of our grandparents.  While that may be a slight exaggeration, there is something delightfully carefree about the relationship between children and their parents’ parents.  Grandparents are a continual reminder that Mom and Dad were once kids, and they often have archives of ancient-looking photos and stories to prove it.

They have other interesting things, too, and don’t mind if you prowl around in their stuff and ask lots of questions.  They will often play games your parents don’t have time for, or laugh at things your parents might fuss about.  They might sneak treats to you that your parents wouldn’t let you have.  No doubt about it, there’s something slightly subversive about grandparents.  But in a good way.

Jeff and I were blessed with loving grandparents whose influence has lasted far beyond their time here on earth.  We miss them, and hope that we will be able to live up to the examples they left us, providing loyalty, laughter and love that will never die.

This post was first published seven years ago today. Sadly, I’ve learned that Brault’s quote is not always true. This post, almost as much as the blissfully hopeful ones I wrote when I truly believed that Jeff would survive and beat the cancer, brings sadness to my heart, as will some of the ones to follow in the weeks to come. But the only way out is through. I can’t dodge the sadness or pain. I can’t deny that there once was a time when everything looked brighter, when I thought I would have a role to play in my grandchildren’s lives. I re-publish this post in recognition that just as things can change for the worse in ways we may not have imagined, they also can change just as remarkably for the better, and perhaps a happier ending of some sort may lie ahead for me.

Mama and Daddy, I miss you! You were exemplary parents and grandparents in so many ways.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

16 Comments

  1. Chris

    Julia, I was a little saddened when I read your comment. We’ll never know “why” that life happens as it does. But you are right; the way out is through. Your story isn’t finished. Maybe not yet discernible, your role is vital, and does make an impact.
    Your role as a grandparent is different than what you had imagined, but you still are a grandparent. I hope you will discover ways to be a part of the lives of Drew’s children. I know they would be better for it. Stay positive, and look forward.
    Yes, it has been HOT lately. Hope you and Matt are enduring as well! Cheers!

    • Thanks Chris. I try to take one day at a time and to remember “this too shall pass” which can be both a blessing and a curse. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of things to keep me busy and distracted from the pain. Live is still beautiful, no matter how much ugliness sprouts up here and there. It’s a tiny bit cooler today (only a tiny bit, but I’ll take it!) and I keep reminding myself that we are only about 6 weeks away from cooler weather, and may get some temporary breaks from it before then. I’m totally loving my iced tea! 😀 Take care and thanks for being here.

  2. MaryAnn

    What a beautiful love your parents had for each other! Thx for sharing this joy-filled photo!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. Yes, Mama and Daddy had one of those strange and wonderful relationships, not without conflict but held together with unbreakable commitment to each other. I mentioned to a friend recently that all four of us kids knew without question (and were shown in words and actions) that our parents’ priority was each other, with the four of us taking a significant but well-defined second priority. My friend said that was very unusual in her experience, and I suppose it was, but it was beneficial in many ways, not least of which it helped us learn independence in our youth.

  3. Sheila

    Hi Julia. I know you continue to love your grandsons, even at a distance. Hopefully it won’t always be that way. Parenting has changed so much, as well as life in general. Respect is missing from so many aspects of day to day activities and the simplest gestures lack kindness. Bill was waiting patiently today for service at a store and was acknowledged with “what do you need?” instead of any courtesy such as “How may I help you?” I don’t go out very much, seem disappointed when I do! Iced Tea sounds really good, even on a very hot Verandah. I think you so often, on any given day and am always thankful for the friendship that I consider one of the best things that ever came from the internet for me. Always special to me, She 💛

    • Sheila, you are feeling the same as I do regarding the state of the world today. We belong to a vanished world when it comes to customer service. I remember how I was taught when I worked at Rich’s department store; the customers and their needs were the priority in every situation, zero tolerance for any other attitude, even if it meant the store lost money on any particular transaction. I can’t imagine any business giving that level of service anymore but for better or worse, it became the standard by which I evaluate every company I’ve worked for, or dealt with, since then. Almost nobody even comes close, sadly. Rich’s sent out “secret shoppers” often and we were graded on dozens of very specific details, including how soon we greeted the customer (even if we were busy with another customer we were supposed to acknowledge them with eye contact and “I’ll be right with you” the moment we saw them), how much we smiled and thanked them, whether we went “above and beyond” for any need they had. If we got 100% from a secret shopper, which I did twice, we got a free meal in their upscale southern “tea room” (a restaurant called the Magnolia Room) at the downtown location, located on the top floor of most stores and also on the “bridge” building between the Store for Homes and the Store for Fashion. (Check the 1959 price for a full multi-course London Broil dinner there – $1.35!) WOW. Such happy memories. Yes, iced tea is getting me through these hot, hot days! I think of you too, often and fondly! ❤

  4. Hello hello ! It’s your long lost Boomdee. Good heavens Julia, what is happening down there? I know you probably don’t want to comment here but we must connect soon. Just let me know what time or day is good for you. Thank you so much for your card and note. It came some time ago but as Jim is setting aside the mail (covid precaution), I wasn’t aware of when or that it sat un-open. Sorry for my tardy thanks. Please tell Matt hello from Canada. I think of you both and wonder how life is going. Let’s connect soon. Love Kelly xo

    • Hi Kelly! It’s wonderful to see you here again. I’m still dividing my time between the NoVa home and the York home but with advance planning, I can probably make myself available online most anytime. I imagine you are working from home so your schedule probably is busier than mine. My email address hasn’t changed so you can contact me there if you want to set something up. Hope you and “Mr. B” and the adorable P & B are all well! Matt and I are doing fine and in some respects we have actually enjoyed the quarantine (though I’m still a bit miffed at having to cancel four fabulous trips I had booked). Talk to you soon I hope! Love and cyber hugs!!

  5. Judy from Pennsylvania

    This photo radiates the joy they all were having together. I love the way your mom just reached up and gave your dad an arm hug. I think that you and your beautiful mom look a lot alike.

    • Thank you, Judy. As I’ve gotten older I think I look more like Mama than Daddy, although when I was younger it was about half and half (though I’m the only sibling who did not get Daddy’s dark skin, hair and eyes). There was a lot of laughter in my home while I was growing up and that trait never left Mama and Daddy. I think humor is what held my family together sometimes when the going got tough.

  6. Good morning, Dear Julia!
    I was blessed to have two grandmothers all the way up through having two of my three children. My mom’s mom we called “Grandma I-Love-You” due to her letters, which ended with:
    “I Love You,
    Grandma”
    I never felt as closer to my dad’s mom, “Granny Becky”, although she lived locally. She was a home economics teacher, worked full time for three seasons of the year, and wasn’t nearly as indulgent.
    And then I grew up.
    Things changed.
    Grandma I-Love-You got cancer and was sick. I got pregnant. And Granny Becky came through like a champ!
    There sure is no reliable predictor of tomorrow. So I’ll take and keep the memories of Granny Becky with my kids, and Grandma I-Love-You with Theresa and me as the kids.

    • Susan, thank you for sharing about both your wonderful grandmothers– two very different women with two different but equally important roles to play in your life. Among the lessons they taught you (and through you, us) is that no matter how stereotyped the role may be, each can play it in her own way and leave a legacy of love as individual as a fingerprint. My two grandmothers were as different from each other as to be almost opposites, but each was a lasting gift in the lives of their grandchildren, and their influence lives on.

      • Julia, I think we’re the richer – and better – for having had diversity in grandmothers and in role models.

  7. Lydia

    Grandparents are so important. And when grandparents are not near, people who take the time to love our kids are a blessing. When my children were young and we were living in Texas, their grandparents lived in Colombia and in Mexico, people in our small church took the time to love and show kindness to them. Every Sunday when we got to church our kids would run to hug Mrs. Betty, a lady from our church. I was so proud of them and their good manners. It wasn’t until they were adults that I found out that Mrs. Betty would give them candy every Sunday. I never gave candy to our children, so it was a big treat for them. A couple of years ago we went back and Mrs. Betty and I had a good laugh about it.

    • Lydia, I am so glad you had some “foster grandparents” such as Mrs. Betty, and especially happy you are still in touch with her. My boys had a similarly doting “adopted” grandmother when we lived in Ohio, Ms. Dolly. I spent over an hour on the phone with her recently, planning a potential visit in September (if COVID allows) to go see the woman who was such a wonderful help to Jeff and me more than 30 years ago, when our boys were babies. Staying in touch with friends who go back with us for decades is priceless! And I hope to be a blessing to other little ones who are miles away from their sweet grandmothers. When distance or circumstances keep us apart from our biological family, we still can find those who need us. Thanks for reminding me of that! 🙂

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