Monday, May 4, 2009

The “Away” Grandparents

Mom and Dad met at college. The romance turned serious very quickly -- they married four months after they met! -- and they knew they would be moving to Dad's hometown, some 150 miles away, where Dad would go into business (a pharmacy) with his father. Not long after, Mom and Dad fixed up Mom's sister Carol with Dad's softball teammate, Bennie. Another romance sparked and before you knew it... another daughter had married and moved away.

This must have been tough for Grandma Sophie G. and Grandpa Harold G., to whom family was everything. The knowledge that both girls were happily married eased the sting; although their deep roots to friends, family, and congregation kept them here, I bet that they discussed, and seriously considered, the idea of moving.

I'm sure it became even more challenging when our own baby boom started. In nine years, their daughters gave birth to seven grandchildren. I think Grandma S. was here for every birth; I don't know if Grandpa stayed or, more likely, brought her and then picked her up a week or two later.

That's how it went for the next 30 years or so. Grandma and Grandpa G. made the trek for every birth, every Bar and Bat Mitzvah, every graduation, every major and most minor celebrations.
In reverse, at least half of my family's vacations were to visit Grandma & Grandpa G. I'm sure Dad dropped us off and picked us up; I can't imagine him staying and taking a whole week off of work. The highlights:

  • Being towed by Grandpa G's riding lawnmower. (When they were older, my brothers were allowed to drive it.)
  • Daring each other to touch the eye of Grandpa G's huge mounted sailfish (the tail is just visible in the second picture). It was more than 5' long from sword to tail.
  • Sneaking an occasional hard candy from a candy dish. (Candy on a table? Wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds at our house.)
  • Cooking and baking with Grandma Sophie. She also had endless scraps for making stuff: buttons, fabric, trim, etc.
  • Kite-flying from their big yard, or the field across the street.
  • Grandpa G was a skilled "Mr. Fixit" with a workbench and a garage full of tools that I'm sure enthralled my brothers.
The lowlight: being forced to "play" with some local dorky cousins or worse, having to visit their snooty country club with them.

I'm sure each visit was over much too quickly for my mom, her parents, and the adoring aunts and uncles. The things we do for love...

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