A Grand Celebration
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and I was happy to watch as our children paid “homage” to my husband, their father, on his special day. But in a way, I was sad, too, that I was not able to visit my father since he’s been deceased since 1971, and it also made me wish that my children could have met their grandfather. I remember how fond I was of my own grandparents, and I wish that my children could have known their grandparents, too.
If I could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, I think the familial feast that I would come up with would be Grandparents’ Day. Now, I realize that Grandparents’ Day has been recognized as a secular holiday in the United States ever since 1978 and as such, it is supposed to be celebrated on the first Sunday of September after Labor Day. Did you know that there’s even an official song for the U.S. National Grandparents’ Day holiday, written by songwriter Johnny Prill, entitled, “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa?”
The problem for me is that this celebration of Grandparents’ Day came too late because all of my grandparents had gone to their eternal reward by then. I wish I could have celebrated this day with them because they were amazing, unique, and wonderful individuals.
My Grandpa and Grandpa Kramlinger were my mother’s parents. They were both German and spoke with thick German accents. Every now and then their English would be sprinkled with German words like “liebschen,” “ja,” “nein,” “danke,” “bitte schoen,” and “gut.” Grandma and Grandpa visited almost every Sunday and would spend the afternoon playing cards with my parents.
Grandpa was quite a short man, a little hunched over, and he walked with a cane. Most of the hair on his head was gone. He chewed snuff and then would spit it into an old coffee can which my mother kept just for him. I remember he would always pull the snuff tin out of his pocket, open it up, and offer it to us as “candy.” Somehow we knew that it wasn’t really candy – it truly did not look that appetizing, anyway. He also called each of us “Tootsie”. Now whether that was a pet name or whether he just couldn’t remember all of our names, I will never know. Later in life, our Grandpa would come and live with us until the end of his days. Those days were special, too.
Now Grandma was a straight-forward sort of gal. She spoke her mind and made no excuses. But I loved my Grandma. She was taller than Grandpa and she always wore a dress with a necklace, bracelet, and earrings. Her jewelry was costume jewelry, and the bigger the stones, the better. One of my favorite things was when she would give us her “old” jewelry and we would play dress-up with it. She always called me Cynthia.
At Easter time, they always brought these special rolls that Grandma always made called “groffins”. These were sweet rolls which had cinnamon and raisins in them. Whenever she came for Easter, she always brought a brown paper bag packed with these delicious rolls.
Grandma Devine was our father’s mother. She was a widow who lived alone two blocks north and then one block west of our apartment building.
She was a small woman with grey hair and a very soft demeanor, which was the opposite of my Grandma Kramlinger. I loved both my grandmothers, but they were as different as night and day.
Every Saturday evening my mother would walk over to our Grandma Devine’s house to set her hair in rollers. Then every few months my mother would then give her hair a permanent. For some reason, and I am not sure why I was chosen, but I was allowed to accompany my mother to my Grandmother Devine’s every Saturday evening so she could set my grandmother’s hair in rollers. None of my other sisters or brother were allowed to come with; only me for some unknown reason.
I loved to go on these outings with my mother. It made me feel special to be the only one allowed to go my Grandma Devine’s. To me, it was an honor and a privilege to visit my Grandma Devine’s. My Grandma Devine was so gentle and sweet. While I was there, she also would give me a special treat of candy which consisted of the chewy green spearmint leaf-shaped candy which I grew to love. It became one of my favorite candies to eat while I was growing up. Now, every time I see those leaf-shaped green spearmint candies, it reminds me of my Grandma Devine.
I mourned the loss of each of my grandparents when the time came, and I wish they were here today so I could celebrate Grandparents’ Day with them. But most of all, I wish my parents were alive so my children could know their grandparents. I know they would have loved them dearly, and I mourn not only my loss of parents, but my children’s loss of their grandparents.
It is a lesson we must all not take lightly – life is precious. We must appreciate those we have here and now. We must let them know how much we love them while we have the opportunity to do so, and we must make every day a familial feast.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Grandparents are a delightful blend of laughter, caring deeds, wonderful stories, and love.” ~ Author Unknown