Happy Grandparents Day

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As a mother, I know many people influence the lives of my children. People who shape their character. People who make a mark.  As a mother, I would like to think that my husband and I make the greatest mark on their lives, decisions and actions. But that would be a true sign of vanity.  I need only to look at myself to realize that some of the greatest impressions can be from people other than mom and dad.  A quick look in the mirror actually gives me the reflection of my grandparents, all six of them- parents of my mother, father and stepfather.  So in celebration of Grandparents Day, I thought I would honor my grandparents by posting about the impression each of these wonderful people  (some here, some gone but never forgotten) made on who I am today. 

To be fair, I am going to list my grandparents not in order of influence but in the order that they left my life. 

Grandpa Jack- 35 years after his death, I still stop at his grave whenever I’m in Miami.  Sometimes, I sit there and talk to him about challenges I’m facing and at other times I share good news.  Grandpa Jack was my mother’s father.  He was a great fisherman and I know each time I cast a rod that he’s looking down at me. What I remember most is he believed in giving each of his grandkids a gift regardles whose birthday it was at the time.  I recall getting my favorite dress from him on my sister’s birthday.

Grandma Betsy- She was a pistol.  I got my red hair and fiery personality from Grandma Betsy. Growing up I spent many summers with her while she was living in Venezuela.  Grandma Betsy never learned to drive and kept the cleanest house you could ever imagine.  Every time we ran water in her kitchen sink, she required us to wipe it dry so that the stainless steel didn’t show water spots. Her need to clean definitely rubbed off on me.  I hate clutter and can spot a dust flake from across the room.

Grandpa Alligood- He was my stepfather’s dad and the man who taught me how to sell pecans to the wholesalers.  He was a southern farmer who sold cars on the side at the local Ford dealership.  I have fond memories with Grandpa Alligood. He taught me to drive a tractor, fish for catfish, ride a horse and pull peanuts from the field.  I loved spending time on his farm with him and driving up to town in his truck. I gained my love for trees and anything country from Grandpa Alligood.

Grandma Eleanor- She was a my mother’s mother and self-proclaimed gypsy.  She told us a tale that she was born with a mask on her face which was stolen by a nurse. From that day on, her spirit was unable to remain still, always looking for her mask.  This was a good explanation for why she owned no fewer than 4 homes and would appear in our driveway sometimes pulling a camper behind her car.  I remember her living on a houseboat as well.  She spoke several languages and lived in multiple countries while married to an Embassador.  I’ve been told I got my looks from Grandma Eleanor, but I bet I gained my love for travel from her as well.

Grandpa Louie- He was my father’s father and was born on the boat over from Italy.  His name can be found at Ellis Island.  Grandpa Louie was a very accomplished businessman who worked for the Rockefeller family in Venezuela, pre-Chavez.  He was proud and very, very conservative in his views on life.  He loved God and worked very hard.  He taught me how to hit a golf ball , how to pick wild orchards in the mountain of Venezuela and how to catch fish with spit balls.  I gained my love of people and the desire to give back from Grandpa Louie.

Grandma Alligood- She was my stepfather’s mother. Although she lived the longest, she left us many years ago when Alzheimer’s took away her sharp mind.  She was a country lady to the core.  A member of the Southern Baptist Church, she cooked for the sick, taught bible study and visited shut-ins.  I loved reading her Reader’s Digests and spending time in her enormous garden.  When we visited her in Meigs, Ga, I would wake up early just to sit at the kitchen table and chat with her as she prepared the day’s meals.  She always cooked my favorite foods: cheese toast, pound cake and country fried chicken.  We had a special bond and even after she could no longer speak, I know she knew who I was when I visited her in the retirement home.  I spoke at her funeral in the same Baptist Church where she so often taught me bible verses.  I gained my love for life and family from Grandma Alligood.

Today,  I go out of my way to make certain my own four children have the opportunity I had to develop a deep relationship with their grandparents.  I strive to have them touch their lives just as my own touched mine.   So, on this Grandparents Day, I celebrate the lives of my Grandparents and encourage you to do the same.

The world is a bit different from the time of my Grandparents.  For today’s Grandparents, there are wonderful resources like www.grandparents.com which provides tools, resources and content to help grandparents  maintain the bond that will last a lifetime and beyond.

Happy Grandparents Day.

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