To be honest, my memories and fondness for my Grammy and Joey were not fully realized until I was in my mid 20’s. It is somewhat sad to say. Call it a lack of good memorization, or misconception of what grandparents really are to a kid.
Wen you are younger, grandparents are different. That’s not to say they are not like the younger generation physically, although maybe wrinkles and thinning hair constitute a difference. (Insert joke about my lack of hair here.) No, I am talking about culturally different. Older people, by definition, grew up in a different time.
“How could they relate to me?”
Ahh… the naiveté of youth.
Early memories of my grandparents are dominated by trips on the boat. I remember sandwiches of sliced bread, deli meat, and lots of lettuce. And of course a steady and unending supply of assorted dry nuts. Ghost stories told in the dark, with the moon glimmering off the waves of lake Saint Clair as we slowly rocked back and forth. I remember the smell of moisture and fish. I remember the sound of the water lapping against the hull. I remember grandpa Joey affecting his voice to try and sound more scary, but failing. Instead I found him to be all the more comical, which was better than fear any day.
From Grammy I remember her laugh. Sort of an outward unabashed laugh that she let out without a care. And the end of every laugh was permeated with a standing, full toothed, grin.
Ahh… that grin.
When I was younger I didn’t appreciate it. In fact at times I thought it was sort of creepy.
“Why does Grammy smile so much?”
That turned in later years to, “Why don’t more people smile like Grammy?”
THE FAIR WAY
Another memory of my grandpa inexorably leads me to the smell of fresh cut lawn. Traipsing up and down the fairways of a golf course while I attempt to rocket a little ball too and fro. Joey would make congratulatory calls at any good shot I made, or offer corrections to me had my shot been more often in the bad shot category. But he would never tell you that. He always remembered the good shots, the good moments.
Both my Grandparents looked to the bright side of things. I like to think that this is one of those lessons I picked up from them early on.
Fast-forward to today, and life with Grammy and Joey has taken on a new, more interesting hue. I wish I could have had this same appreciation for them earlier. But everything appreciates with time. Even appreciation.
Grandpa does not golf as much. We have traded advise on the golf course for spirited conversations and debates on all manner of issues. I think I have been blessed with a fair amount of tolerance with regards to other people opinions, which enables me to fully appreciate my grandfather’s bull headed charging when he gets into a issue he feels undeniably justified in arguing. Like a matador I allow my Grandpa Joe to run thru my red cape a few times, let him tire, then try to skewer him with my opinion. For me, I don’t care who is right or wrong. I just appreciate the fervor of the conversation and the fact that more often than not we all end up laughing. I believe that with debate comes wisdom. And I appreciate the fact that I can sit down with my grandpa and have this type of conversation.
I must note, that I did not inherit this patience with my grandfather from my father. In the midst of this game of parry and joust, my father’s patience would run quickly dry and his face would become red and befuddled. Sort of funny if you’re a spectator.
Dad… you would not make a very good matador.
You know I love you pops.
For my Grammy, I have seen my relationship with her develop considerably from when I was younger. I was able to appreciate her outlook on life from a perspective of someone that has lived a little more of it. When you are younger, happiness is thrust upon you. Family dotes on you when you are younger, it is their job of sorts to make sure you are attended too. But as you grow older, you start to live your own life. You mold it into the personification of who you want to be, and opportunities present themselves where you will be tested. These tests can contort you into a crass, closed person, or open you up into a realistic optimist. I would like to think that at those times I have been tested, and there have been MANY MANY times, I remember Grammy and her unwavering positive outlook. It has been a source of inspiration that has enabled me to keep my chin up during the hardest periods of my life.
I feel like I have a friendship with my Grandparents. They have gone from obscure relatives that I couldn’t relate to, to become trusted mentors, teacher and confidants. I value their opinions, and thru all my often-strange life choices, they have remained steadfast and supportive.
To be perfectly frank, I may be one of the toughest grandchildren a grandparent can have. If you are looking for a guy to settle down, stay near their family and keep out of harms way, I fill none of those “good grandkids” pre requisites. With my upcoming trip around the world starting soon, I have been offered sound advise, council and words of wisdom from both my grandparents.
Of course, there is fear, worry, apprehension and a slew of factors that may drive them to want to try to encourage me not to do what I plan to do. But that’s not the type of grandparents they are.
That’s not the type of friends they are.