Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Year of Gratitude #57

A Year of Gratitude #57: Grandparents

For the past two weekends in a row, we've been blessed to spend time with Steve's dad. He came down by himself last weekend, and then this past weekend came back with Sue Ann.

I grew up less than a mile from my grandparents on my dad's side. When I was young, my Grandma Burney (my mom's mom) lived on her own, but then she eventually ended up moving in with my Grandma and Grandpa Ghrist (my dad's parents). For as long as I can remember, I'd go over and all my grandparents were there together.

We celebrated holidays together. We were over there every Saturday for pizza. Being there with them was just something that we always did and I loved it. I knew them, loved them, valued them, and appreciated them.

When my Grandpa Ghrist passed away, I was in high school and had not quite faced the facts that my grandparents weren't going to always be there. His death hit me very hard and I can vividly remember being "okay" through the viewing and the funeral, but at the grave-site, I lost it. The physical being that was him was gone, and I'd never see him on this Earth again. It was a hard reality to face and I found it so difficult to leave the cemetery.

His death brought me closer to my grandmas. I made sure to see them more, to call, to send post cards on trips, and to always make sure that they knew how important they were to me.

When I went through my divorce in 2002, I kinda "fell off the planet" and didn't spend as much time with either of them that I should have. It's one of my greatest regrets... I wish I had gone to see them more. 

My Grandma Burney's health started to fail and my mom and Scott (my twin brother) were doing things for her that no child or grandchild should have to do... and yet they did it without complaining. I should have stepped up to help them, but I was swimming in my own world... truly lost.

My dad's sister Ellene basically is an evil person. She managed to talk my Grandma Ghrist into kicking my Grandma Burney out of her house. There's more to it, but that's it in a nutshell. So my mom had to find a place to "put" her mother... and it ended up being a convalescent home.

Whatever you picture when you think of a convalescent home... that's what she lived in. There were lonely old people "dumped" off by their families. Thankfully, my Aunt Mary was so supportive and helpful in getting my Grandma Burney into the place that she was, and the staff knew that she was my aunt's mother. She was treated kindly.

My mom and Scott went to the nursing home daily. I went when I could, but it was extremely hard to go and see her "stuck" in there with people who were sad, alone, and out of their right minds.

It killed my Grandma Ghrist to ask my Grandma Burney to leave. It didn't take long for my Grandma Burney to pass after being separated from her best friend. She passed on November 1.

When she passed away, it was so hard to face. I think it was even worse because I was old enough to have really made some incredible memories with her. I hurt for my own loss, but more so for the loss that my mom was dealing with.

I'll never forget the terrible cries that came from my Grandma Ghrist when she walked into the funeral home for the viewing of my Grandma Burney. It was heart-breaking.

Three months after my Grandma Burney passed, my Grandma Ghrist passed. I am still not over either of their deaths. They were so influential in my life and made such a mark on who I am.

I'm thankful for the time I had with them and thankful that my parents made sure to raise us with them in our lives. My parents always told us, "Grandparents are special and should always be treated as such." We loved them, cared about them, and valued them.

The time spent with them was priceless. As a result of this style of parenting, I make it a priority to make sure that Gus's grandparents, all of them, feel like they're special and appreciated.

I want him to grow up knowing them, loving them, and cherishing them like I did with my grandparents. It's hard being so far from all of them, but I feel like Steve and I are doing a good job of staying connected (either by visits, phone calls, or texts and Facebook).

After spending this weekend with Steve's dad and Sue Ann, and watching them spoil Gus, play with him, and just adore him, I'm so thankful to have a foundation started for Gus like I had with my grandparents.

As my parents always said, "Grandparents are special people." I look forward to many many more visits together, and memories to be made with them. Gus is loved by so many, and I want him to be able to look back on his childhood and say that the most influential people in his life (besides us), were his grandparents.


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