I miss my grandparents everyday, none more than on my birthday. Every year they would get on the phone together and sing Happy Birthday. This was a tradition, gramps called many in the family to sing Happy Birthday. As gramps fell into a coma, one of his sisters by his side, my brother entered the room, she said it’s T’s birthday and gramps started singing. Those were his last words, I know my brother cherishes every word. Tomorrow I turn 51 yrs old, my grandparents can’t call yet I know they are thinking about me. A daily one minute phone call to say I’m alive was all granny needed. She always worried about me. They loved to watch our reactions to Santa, hiding Easter eggs and fighting over who would lick the bowl of frosting. I learned to roller skate at approx 5 years old. Skating provided an outlet and hearing my favorite music over the loud-speaker made me want to dance. As I got older my grandparents would take us skating. Unlike many parents today, my grandparents would stay to watch us have fun. We were building memories that last a lifetime. I loved to speed skate, coming around the last corner full speed one of my wheels blew out throwing me over the mushroom seats. I got up, sat down and began taking my skates off. The ball bearings wore out, it was a right of passage for us kids. Getting new wheels didn’t cross my mind, I didn’t have the money and knew my mother would die before buying me new wheels. My grandmother comes over, her purse on her arm as always and whispers in my ear “what do new wheels cost”. We talked to the salesperson about the different wheels and prices. I focused on the least expensive but really wanted the green speed skating wheels. She knew me so well, asking “how much for the green ones”? She says “I have some mad money” which meant she was hiding money. “Don’t tell your grandfather how much they cost”, ok no problem. She had money hid everywhere, under my dolls clothes, behind frames, in kick knacks. After her death I rounded up several hundred dollars, gramps had no idea she was hiding money. I had to take every photo frame apart, look in everything. Before Dementia took her mind, she took her wedding ring off and forgot where. This crushed gramps, we constantly looked for the ring. During one of our searches after her death I find this kleenex crumpled up in the bottom of a drawer. As soon as I pick it up, pay dirt. We stood there staring at it crying. He slept with the ring in a box by the bed, he gave it to me before he died.
My grandparents had 5-6 huge trees out back loaded with squirrels. Living thru the Depression, gramps knew how to entertain himself for hours. He would go to the river bottoms to pick up pecans, coming home with several buckets full. Then sit in his lawn chair in the shade to sort and crack. He did this several days a week for years so it was no surprise when he had a squirrel eating out of his hand. Granny wasn’t afraid of squirrels but didn’t have the same affection for them. Until she thought he killed one. It was hilarious to hear them tell the story. One of gramps other past times was sitting on the front porch using a sling shot and pecans to scare the squirrels. He shot a pecan up the tree, hits one, it falls out of tree and she thinks it’s dead. She had a few choice words then told him to go check on the squirrel. Gramps is about to pick it up and it comes to. He had knocked it out. I think they were both surprised and off the squirrel went. It bothered me watching this cat and mouse game my whole life, then he took it to a new level. Retirement can get boring for some, not gramps. He started leaving cages out back, when the squirrel would go in the door would close. He checked them all day long, as soon as the door went down, he would round granny up and off to the river bottoms they go. He might release six to eight a day. I think he really did it to get her out of the house, granny was legally blind, this allowed her to put some lipstick on and get out of the house.
My grandparents gave me unconditional love, self-confidence and their time. Time is more precious than what to me.