I have so many memories of my grandparents. I was blessed to have a great-grandmother until I was twenty-four, and grandparents until I was in my forties. We were driving back from visiting our very first granddaughter yesterday and I mentioned that I had spent many hours with my nose pressed against a window waiting for visits from my grandparents.
My husband asked me, “Do you remember why you wanted to see them so badly?” Without hesitation I responded, “They were always happy to see me!” And that is the truth. They gushed; their faces lit up; they hugged us exclaiming how much we’d grown — even if they’d seen us just a couple weeks earlier.
My great grandmother would always meet us at the door smiling with her sparkly eyes. The visit always started with a hug and included lots of chatting while sitting in her living room. On special occasions, like Christmas Eve or Mother’s Day, the WHOLE family would pay her a visit — that meant sometimes twenty people all squished into a small space, sitting politely, and listening to her talk. I don’t ever remember being bored. I remember feeling enveloped in love. And I remember her sour cream cookies — oh, man, they were unrivaled.
My grandparents’ house was about five minutes away from my great grandmother’s. As a young girl I learned to recognize the signs that we were getting close — we crossed the draw bridge over the Saginaw River, we drove past the huge houses on Center Avenue, then we turned at the gas station. The anticipation built as we drove the last four blocks and I could hardly wait to burst out of the car and run to the door to ring the bell. My little grandma (we called her that because, well, she was little, but also to distinguish her from ‘great’ grandma) always came to the door in a dress with an apron tied around her waist. She was always dressed better than anyone I knew –seriously — and was always cooking something fabulous for us. She would open the door, and right behind her would be grandpa. Grandma would give us a kiss and a squish, then we would get the same from grandpa. Whenever my grandparents hugged me, I felt like they, too, had had their noses pressed against the glass waiting for me to get there just so they could hug me.
I’ve seen my mother and father do the same thing with my kids. My mother always fills the fridge and the candy dishes in anticipation of our visits. She has the beds freshly made and dinner in the oven. She hugs each one and listens to every little detail that they are willing to share. She can’t wait until the grandkids get there and is always sad when they leave.
Whenever we leave our house to drive to my dad’s, I give him a call. It has never been less than a four hour drive, but when I call and say, “We’re leaving now,” he says, “I’ll be watching out the window for you.” It doesn’t matter how long it takes us to get there, he is always standing in the door when we drive in. We have never once had to knock. He envelopes each grandkid like he’s been waiting his whole life for that hug.
That’s what grandparents do. And I have recently learned that a grandparent does not need to be taught this behavior. We were driving to Cincinnati to see our little muffin on Friday and I was watching the GPS from the time we pulled out of our driveway. It said we would arrive shortly before 5pm. Well, the GPS didn’t know about the rush hour traffic in Dayton. We got stalled for a bit. I started texting our son when the traffic started moving. “We should be to you in 30 minutes.” “20.” “10.”
He replied, “Come right in, the garage is open.”
He didn’t have to tell us twice. We burst through that door to find our sweet girl sleeping on his chest. We sniffed her, touched her, held her, hugged her. No script needed.
For almost forty-eight hours we took turns holding that little girl, talking to her, smiling at her, loving on her. It doesn’t get old. Driving away, we were already thinking about how soon we could plan to get back.
We don’t love her because she’s cute — but she is. We don’t love her because she’s smart — but, come on. We don’t love her because of what she does. We just love her. Period.
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.