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This is my grandmother. My father’s mother.

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of her death.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday.

Certain important events get extra space in our brains – at least that’s my non-neuroscience theory.

I can still see my father’s grief, the way he leaned against the back of a chair in the dining room to steady himself when the hospital called with the news that she’d passed.

This woman was so very dear to us.

 

Hers was not an easy life.

Her husband died leaving her with a young son to raise by herself. There was no life insurance to fall back on. She was a woman alone in the early part of the twentieth century, which had to be scary as hell. From the vantage point of my rather entitled lifestyle in 2012, I am awed at how she survived.

And survive she did.

My sisters and I loved her beyond measure.

She made intricate, wonderful doll clothes for us.

She told stories that held our attention for hours.

She was an extraordinary cook. My recipe box still holds many recipes straight from her. One of her specialties was making candy at Christmas. She made divinity, penuche, fudge and something called “mocho cakes” which were like large versions of petit fours. Sort of.

She also made dinner rolls that could make a grown man cry with delight. I’ve never been able to replicate them.

But at the top of the list as far as I’m concerned is that she was the most unconditionally loving person I’ve ever known. She wrapped her heart around her family and friends and never stopped loving us.

No matter what we did.

She’s been my role model for strength in the face of adversity and love. I can’t think of a better example.

And now fifty years have passed since I’ve seen her, heard her stories, felt her loving touch.

And yet, she’s as alive as ever in my heart.

Guiding me, loving me, and urging me to give those dinner rolls another try.

 

I expect you have that special someone in your heart, your memory.

If they are still living, don’t waste another moment. Spend as much time with them as you possibly can.

And if they’re no longer living, be ever so grateful that they touched your life.

Your heart.

Your soul.

Some of my sweetest memories are from my childhood relationship with my grandparents.

Decades later, I can conjure their voices and the luxurious feel of spending time in their presence.

Grandparents have the amazing opportunity to be ambassadors of true unconditional love.

And lucky for me, and my sisters, our grandparents were exactly that. They didn’t concern themselves with monitoring schoolwork, chores, or the specifics of our behavior, unless we broke important rules.

They wisely left that to our parents.

Instead, they spent their time with us dispensing love. In their eyes, we could do no wrong, and their unconditional regard washed over us in an ever-flowing waterfall. To be on the receiving end of that fountain of love was pure bliss.

Today, child development experts and neuroscientists will confirm the healing, almost magical benefits of being loved so unconditionally. There were rules, boundaries and expectations to be sure. It wasn’t like some Kids Gone Wild movie.

What professionals have learned is that children thrive in an atmosphere of high warmth and clearly defined expectations about behavior. Sounds like my grandparents, and I’m guessing yours too.

At least I hope so.

 Now the baton has been passed.

My grandparents are no longer living. And my parents, who beautifully carried out the tradition of unconditional love for their grandchildren have joined them. In our little family, that leaves Rick and me to be the waterfall of unconditional love.

It’s a task we’re thrilled to undertake.

At the ripe old age of not quite two, our grandson knows the horses and has absolutely no fear around them. When he gets in our car he asks, “Horses?” He’s figured this little routine out. Has it down cold.

Bud and Pepper take him in stride. This visit, Pepper even agreed to allow him to sit on her back. For Miss P. that was big!

Do you have special grandparent memories? 

Our grandmother used to mix the last of the grape juice in the pitcher with a new can of orange juice, I presume so that she wouldn’t have to wash the container. We loved that! Thought it was a special kind of juice. My sister and I still talk about it sometimes. Just writing about it shoots me back to my grandmother’s dining nook in Kansas. I can picture the little juice glasses and nearly taste the juice. That’s how strong memory is.

If you’re so inclined, tell me one of your grandparent memories in the comment section below.

“Cutest baby in the world,” I said to my hairdresser the other day.

“Really, he’s smart and funny and engaging. Nothing seems to frighten him. He smiles non-stop. Well almost.”

I was talking about my beautiful grandbaby, a boy that has now been on the planet an entire year.

And one week.

I have to watch myself, so that I don’t go on and on.

And on.

I do realize that others may not want to hear my stories or become a member of the same fan club.

They may have their own grandbaby to gush over.

I hope they do.

Because don’t we all need a fan club?

One or two or ten people who think we are just the best.

Grandparents often fill that role for children.

 

We don’t have the day-to-day concerns about raising kids.

We’re not the ones to worry about sleeping through the night, potty training, teeth brushing, homework, bedtime and manners.

The huge responsibility of parenting is off our shoulders.

Grandparents get to do the fun stuff.

And we get to be president of the fan club.

We collect photos and anecdotes, marveling at each and every one.

Unconditional love flows from an unending stream.

 

And the object of our attention and affection flourishes.

It’s like giving a steady dose of growth hormones.

 

Some of my very best memories from childhood are from times spent with my grandparents. All these years later I can still picture their houses, hear their voices and remember the wonder of being with them.

I bet you can too.

Such sweet rememberings.

Somewhere in life, unless we’re a celebrity (and who can really trust that?), the fan club goes away.

We lose our raving fans – the people who think we hung the moon and can do no wrong. The people who carry our photographs and tell our stories.

And smile all the while they talk about us.

Bring Back the Fan Club

Well, I’d like to bring back the fan club. The ones our grandparents presided over so many years ago.

This time though, we become fans for each other.

 

Here’s the Challenge

I’m challenging myself, and you if you’re willing to participate, to become a raving fan of everyday people.

The people in your life who make a difference but maybe don’t know that they do.

Let’s start telling them.

This holiday season and into 2011, let’s pull out that box of unconditional acceptance, dust it off, and use it.

Every day.

Because really, honestly, couldn’t you use a fan or two cheering you on?

Believing in you.

Supporting you.

Accepting you just as you are.

Being the back-up generator when your own power goes on the fritz?

I know I sure could.

 

 

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