These are my grandparents. While their names are technically Hank and Velma, to me they are Gram and Gramps.
They passed away within months of each other nearly 16 years ago. Gram passed away first, then, shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my first (and only) baby, Gramps passed on himself. I loved them so much……they were not only awesome grandparents, but just really wonderful people all-around. They had great (and many) friends, were very active in their church and were loving and generous. They were always there for my mom, brother and sister and me. We were a tiny family (my mom was an only child) who spent every holiday together – and that includes Mothers' & Father’s Day as well as birthdays and most Sunday dinners. Mmmmm…I still remember the smell of Gram’s fried chicken. And her fruit salad with mini-marshmallows and Miracle Whip in the dressing, yum, yum, yum!
Every summer starting when I was two years old (till I was 17), they took my brother, sister and me to Paulina Lake, a rustic resort of sorts, outside Bend, Oregon. Gramps taught us to fish while Gram kept the home fires burning (literally). Gramps had big hands and huge thumbs…I always wondered how the heck he tied on fish hooks with those things! Gramma taught me how to play Solitaire and my sister to play cribbage. They both let all three of us run around and hike the trails around the lake…..we had freedom that the times allowed back then – freedom that unfortunately, isn’t as ample nowadays what with abductions and such all over the news. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t let us run rampant….they kept a firm thumb over us. But they let us grow as children need to, all the while teaching us to be good people.
Gram and Gramps may have demanded respect….I don’t actually know about the 'demand' part since I’d have given it willingly anyway. They were the be-all, end-all….the towering patriarch and matriarch of our family. I know I would not be the person I am today without having had them in my life. They were a huge, key part of my life till they passed away when I was 29 and they still influence me today.
I was lucky to have them in my life as long as I did. My second greatest sorrow in losing Gram and Gramps (my first is that I don’t have them here for me anymore – selfish? Yes, quite possibly, but oh well!), is that my daughter never got to meet them. She’s had to get to know them via family photographs and my memories and stories which are plentiful. What is so awesome about that is that I can tell she totally understands that they were two of the best people to have ever lived – and I can tell that she respects their memory and has solid understanding that they were and still are are the single greatest influence on our entire family.
Gram and Gramps….I know you’re out there. If you’re reading this today, I still miss you every day and love you more than ever. I want you to know that I wrote a poem in honor of you shortly after Grampa passed away. I thought I’d like to share my tribute to you with lots of other people, so, I turned the poem into a book and illustrated it myself. It took me a long time to complete - sadly, almost 16 years. I always knew I’d finish it though and never lost sight of my goal to get it published. So….today, finally, I am sending it off to a publisher in hopes turning it into a real book so all people can enjoy the love of wonderful grandparents like you.
To everyone who is reading this – wish me luck! I want this so badly….for my Gram and Gramps :-)