Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grandparents Rule!!!

Although I think of my maternal grandparents frequently, as well as other members of family and friends no longer with us, it was only this week that I realized how much they left us.

I, also, know that my younger relatives haven't heard half of the histories and stories (real or myths!) that surrounded them.  What a shame! 

My grandparents were of a generation, unlike today, that knew how to work, how to survive, how to save, how to stretch a meal and a dollar, knew what needed to be done, and how to do it.  There was no discussion, no bargaining, no compromise, and, definitely, no whining.  They commanded respect (yes, sometimes out of fear!) but mostly from love and admiration for what they accomplished in their lives together.  And everyone knew it, from the closest relatives to the mysterious lady who styled my grandmother's hair that no one ever saw, neighbors we'd never met, and their childrens' friends and families!

Their funerals would make anyone envious for the number of people that appeared out of nowhere to pay their respects, almost too many for the funeral home.  That's how many lives they touched in their years together.  You would have thought royalty was being honored on those days!

Separately, they were something else.  Together, they were a force to be reckoned with.

Our great-grandmother, Cora, was given the "suggestion" to get our young grandmother OUT of Mississippi by the Sheriff.  We still don't know what she did or who she cussed out to warrant that!  Grandma was sent to live in the big city of Chicago with her older brother.  Her brother showed her picture to our then-bachelor grandfather who responded with the immediate desire to marry her!  Just telling like I heard it, folks.  I've seen a pic and, boy, did they look good together!

Now, Grandma, given her strong personality, won him over, obviously.  However, she was not going to be the wife of a man that played saxophone in a band.  She told him that.

Pawpaw, as we called him, put the horn down, away, and never picked it up to play again.  I once saw it in an old, old case in their closet.  It was worn and dusty and forgotten, sacrificed for the love of a good woman.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Pawpaw was no push-over.  Oh, noooo!  Another story was told by our deceased eldest uncle, of walking down the street as a young man with his friend and spotting Pawpaw on the other side of the street.  Pawpaw was rushing behind a man trying to get away and as he caught up to him, he gave that man a beating.  Our uncle's friend said, "Isn't that your father?  Should we go and help him?" The answer was, "No.  He's got it." And he did.  I often wonder what that man said or did to Pawpaw to make him so enraged that day. 

I can only say that it must have been pretty bad because that same man could be as funny, sweet and gentle as anyone you'd ever want to meet.  He loved his kids and really loved THEIR kids (us brats).  He'd pop in from the back porch where he and his dog hung out during the Sunday or holiday get-togethers, just to dance for us a few minutes (I think, to check on us!), then back off again to the porch.  Just a man, his dog, some Old Grandad, unfiltered Pall Malls, and his thoughts.

He was the hardest working man I'd ever heard of.  Oh, did I mention he had a wife and 10 children to house, feed, and clothe from the 40's to the 60's, until his retirement?  He was the man who did what he had to do.  Where are those men now?  Do they still exist?  Perhaps.

After a few half-hearted attempts at 'relationships',  I had resolved that my 'soulmate' was blind, married, living on the other side of the world, with 8 kids, and an incurable disease.  In other words, I'd told the Lord, if you have someone for me, great.  If you don't and it's You and me, that's good, too. 

Shortly after, God sent me a man (of a different race but good eyesight!), who lived on the other side of the United States, with no wife, a grown stepchild, and healthy as a horse.  He had proposed and wanted me to move to his State.  I, as we women tend to do, decided to test this relationship, and asked if he would move to where I lived.  Without a beat, he said, no. 

"NO?  You don't want to be with me wherever I am? You jerk! Are you thinking I'll just leave my life for you now?? You're NUTS! It's OVER!" 

Of course, I didn't say any of that because I took a deep breath, thinking of the type of person he was, I quietly asked, why not?  Something/someONE urged me to have faith this man would come up with a satisfactory response.

"I was born and raised here.  I know where everything is and who to call on for anything here.  I can take better care of you here."  DING DING DING! Good answer!

Neither of us knew that years later I'd be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis so I thought it was a sweet sentiment, but seemingly unnecessary, at the time.

So, I moved. A couple of months later, we had an ant problem. That required my husband to crawl under the house to spray, with all the ant hills, spiders, webs, critters, and God only knows what else. I knew he felt almost the way I do about them all.  Basically put...EEEEEEEEEEE!!!

But he did it. 

He did it.  And he won my heart even more that day.  Why? Because he saved me from the big bad terrible ants?  Yeah, right! (OK, partially!) But I loved him because I saw a man like my Pawpaw and knew I'd lucked out.  No!  I'd been blessed!  This was another stage of my "reboot".  No more silly questions.  Trust in this man to do the right thing.  He won't disappoint.

Now, we won't have as many years together as my grandparents did, but we will squeeze in all the love we can, like they did, for as long as we can.  In fact, that's similar to Tommy's toast on our wedding day.

I pray that my daughter will find the same one day.  In fact, I wish it for everyone. 

Have a blessed weekend, Memorial Day, and week, All!

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