I wasn’t allowed to ask my Grandma for gum. Mom thought it impolite. But that didn’t worry me, ’cause I knew that when she came to visit, she’d open wide her purse and let me choose from peppermint or spearmint; a whole pack.
When we saw Grandpa and her coming down the hill in their brown Oldsmobile, my two younger cousins, (who lived across the street from me), my little sis and I would hold hands and dance around in a circle singing, “Grandma and Grandpa are coming! Grandma and Grandpa are coming! Yay!”
It put us in such a festive mood to have them come to see us. They made us feel special. They made us feel safe and welcome. They made us sure of their love, whether we were good as gold or mischievous and trouble-making.
Mom made everything from scratch. She canned her own veggies, made jelly, and baked bread and rolls .Delicious! But a simple bologna sandwich at our grandparents was like a little slice of heaven.
The coffee pot was always hot at Grandma’s charming house on the hill; with people running in and out all day to enjoy a cup together. I was all grown up before I sorted out who was family and who was just friends of family. The atmosphere was just so warm and inviting. You always felt at home.
This is a sort of talent that not everyone has mastered. It’s important to me to learn it, because people don’t get how valuable they are sometimes. They can be in a room filled with people and still feel alone.
We were loved, but not spoiled. We didn’t feel like our grandparents owed us anything. When we entered their home, we removed our shoes. We ate at the kitchen table and played quietly. We didn’t tear through the house or touch any of her pretty decorations. We said please and thank you.
We were a bit competitive at times, though. I don’t know why; it’s not like we doubted that we were utterly adored. But sometimes we made life somewhat difficult for Grandma, as she indulged our whims like nobody’s business.
“How many red jellybeans did you get?”
“I got 14. How many did you get?”
“I only got 12! Hey, Grandma! Brenda got 14 red jellybeans and I only got 12! Red is my favorite! Do you love her more?”
“Now, don’t be silly! Of course I love you all the same!” She’d say. We were already working on bunny ears by then. No big deal. Just a grumpy moment brought on by not enough sleep and too much sugar.
But the following year, all four of her little girls got the same exact amount of red jellybeans. You’d better believe we counted them, too, then looked up to see her smiling. All of us remember it.
Why? ’cause those red jellybeans meant something way more than candy. And even now they’re a joy-filled memory for us to share.
Grandma is long gone and she’s still making us smile. That’s the kind of grandma I want to be.
Grandma and me in the breakfast nook after making baskets for my kids.