Last Saturday, I had a very productive morning at home. I accomplished the goals I had set for myself and was feeling on top of the world. So much so, in fact, that I totally lost track of time. My husband came in at 2 pm and said he was starving and wanted a burger. We decided to go to a local hamburger joint for lunch.
As we waited for them to bring our food to the table, we talked about our day. In the corner of my eye, I noticed an elderly man with two young teenaged girls. He had white, wavy hair, and as I eavesdropped on their conversation, I realized he was their grandfather. He kept referring to himself as “Grand-dad.” It made me smile.
I looked over at the girls and saw that they didn’t seem too interested in what he had to say. I wanted to go over to them and say, “I hope you appreciate this time you have with your grandfather. My grandfather passed away 22 years ago and I would give anything to be having lunch with him today.”
They brought our food and I started to eat, but by then, I had gotten so emotional about it that I had to fight to hold back the tears. Hard as I tried to think about something else, just watching them there together made me sad.
When I was a young girl, I went to live with my grandparents for awhile. I was the first grandchild and quickly became my grandfather’s buddy. I followed him wherever he went, and the day my father took us with him to live with his new wife was one of the saddest days of my life.
My father died before his parents did, and in later years, my grandparents sold their home and moved to an assisted living facility. Before long, Grandma required nursing home care. Every Saturday, I took my three children to visit both of them. We always planned it so that we could go out to lunch with Grandpa. I’d say, “Grandpa, where would you like to go to lunch today”? For the next five years, almost every week he would say, “What about Long John Silvers? I haven’t been there in awhile.” So we’d go to Long John Silvers and every time, he would say, “This is the best meal I’ve ever had.” He loved it, and I loved being there to watch him enjoy it.
Grandpa, without fail, had always been there for me. He was the one who taught me how to look up words in the dictionary. He taught me how to ride my bike. When I came running to him because the chain came off my bike, or my skates wouldn’t stay on, he would stop everything to fix my problem. I never heard him grumble, even under his breath, because I interrupted whatever he was doing. He always seemed glad to just be there to help me. One time, while clearing the dishes from the table, I broke a little dish that I believed was valuable. Grandma quietly came to the table and helped me clean up the glass. “I’m sorry, Grandma. I didn’t mean to break it.”
“I know you didn’t,” she said. “It was just a dish. Don’t worry about it, honey.” She put her arm around me and assured me that everything was okay.
I learned a valuable lesson from my grandparents. People matter more than things.
I recently had the opportunity to “pay it forward.” My own grandkids were playing rough in the house and broke a little vase that had belonged to my mother. It was my fault for not putting it in a safer place, but my heart just sank when I heard the crash. I calmly walked to the table and started to clean up the glass, and then went through the exact same steps with them. They apologized. I assured them that everything was okay. Inside, I was disappointed and angry with myself for not being more careful, but no matter what that vase meant to my mother, or to me, my grandchildren were worth more.
I hope that some of the memories we’re building today will mean something to them long after I’m gone.
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