Friday, September 26, 2014
“Never Have Children, Only Grandchildren.”
Pope Francis held a special mass for grandparents this week at St. Peter’s Square. Something nice about honoring grandparents, especially now that I am one.
I was fortunate to know my grandparents on my dad’s side of the genealogical chart. They lived in Detroit, Michigan and each summer we made the annual pilgrimage. I remember their small, red brick house, the smell of stuffed cabbage cooking in the kitchen, Daisy the dachshund, and my grandfather’s garage filled with tools and handmade projects.
It was at my grandfather’s funeral that I saw my father cry for the first time. I was in ninth grade, and it was the first time I experienced the feeling called grief. I think I grieved more for my dad than anything else. My dad’s mom would pass away a few years later.
I never knew my grandfather on my mother’s side. He died long before I was born, so I have no recollection of him, other than some old family photos.
Then there was Baba, my mom’s mom. As long as I can remember, we always called her Baba, which means grandmother. She had a smile and laughter that would fill up a room. She enjoyed life and was the life of the party. Her whole life was one of devotion to family. Baba raised ten children of her own and when one of my aunts passed away leaving my uncle with three small children, Baba moved in and raised them.
I remember huge family reunions and picnics, and Baba made sure everyone attend. No excuses when it came to family. Every Christmas Eve was at Baba’s. Most of all I remember back rubs. We all loved Baba’s back rubs. We would lie across her lap and she would rub our backs and tell us stories. Funny how of all things, I remember those back rubs.
When I told her I was going to seminary to study to be a minister, she cried and told me, “It is the Holy Spirit.” When she died, I felt I had lost a best friend but I smiled knowing all my relatives in heaven heard her coming by the sound of her laughter.
I am a grandparent now and trying to learn what it means to be a good one. We don’t get to see them as much as we would like, Bloomington, Indiana is a long car drive. So we do the next best thing, we face time constantly. We also box and send little treats that they love, like Gummy Bears and Corrine’s homemade cookies which they call Gramma cookies. Corrine and I laugh because by the time we box and mail them, it would be cheaper just to give them the money to go buy them on their own.
I once shared in a blog that it is a tradition in our house that I make pizza on Sunday nights; we now have added a new pizza tradition. Twice a month I call a pizza restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana, order a pizza and have it delivered to the grandchildren. They giggle with delight. They call it “Pap’s Pizza.”
Did you have the chance to know your grandparents? And even if they are gone, can you still see their faces and hear the sound of their voice? Do you remember little things like back rubs gummy bears and cookies? And if you are fortunate to still have them with you, well, take your lead from Pope Francis and tell them today how much they mean to you. And if you are a grandparent, do your grandkids have a nick name for you?
God bless all the Paps and Grammas in the world.