Friday, May 1, 2009
Remember The Sunsets
I was raised by my Grandparents. My Parents were much too young when they married and three years later, as the relationship was breaking up, I came along. My Grandparents took Mom and me in. They were in their forties and their children were almost grown. I'm sure they were looking forward to the next phase of their lives, doing things together without small children around, but I was loved and well cared for and never felt any resentment on their part. I think they thought of me as one of their own and eventually I had my name legally changed to take their name. I became the person I am because of them.
I learned many things from my Grandfather. He was a gentle, quiet man. I spent every minute I could with him when I was little and there are pictures of me under the sink fixing the pipes with him. There's a picture of us on the roof together. From my earliest memories we would sit on the front steps in the evening and watch the sun set. He taught me a love for nature. We took long walks in the woods and identified trees and animal tracks in the dirt.
He was an engineer and if I had a question about how something worked, he would explain, complete with diagrams. He was very detail oriented and so am I. That accounts for my hobbies of knitting and cross stitch. The details of charts and doing stitch by stitch drives my husband crazy sometimes. Rob is an artist and paints abstracts. I sometimes wish I could be as free with my art as he is with his. I get bogged down in detail.
My Grandfather loved technology. We had television all my life and as soon as color TV became available, he bought one. One summer he gave me a pocket transistor radio and I spent the summer strolling through the park across the street from the house listening to my favorite music. On one visit to them he left the house early in the morning and returned home with a pocket calculator. He thought it would help me with my crafts. He didn't live long enough to see the popularity of personal computers, but I'm sure he would have been involved in computing and would approve of my blog.
When I was small, my Grandfather would give my Grandmother some time off from caring for me. The two of us would go to Sears and wander through the tool department. He loved tools and had a huge collection. I learned about tools and how to care for them. I cherish my tools that I use for crafting and try to take good care of them. It annoys me when Rob leaves a tool outside in the weather.
He loved music and I learned a love of certain styles of music from him. When I received my first paycheck from my first job, we went together to pick out a stereo for my room. As an adult I lived in Myrtle Beach, not far from where they lived in retirement. He would drop by to visit in the evenings and we would listen to music together on that stereo.
In one of our last conversations he reminded me to, "Remember the sunsets".
My Grandmother also taught me things, some good, some not so much. First for the not so good. My Grandmother loved soap operas. She listened to them on radio before I was born and when they moved to TV, so did she. I was home with her so I watched, too. When I started school I came home for lunch. She and I would eat our soup and sandwiches in front of the TV visiting with our friends in soapland. When I was a teenager and a young adult I watched, but wouldn't admit it. I was a closet soap watcher. Now I still watch, but I no longer care who knows.
My Grandmother was afraid of thunderstorms and she taught me to be afraid. At the first clap of thunder she would run around the house unplugging everything, then go into her bedroom and sit on the bed. I learned by watching her. I envy people who aren't frightened by thunderstorms. I don't unplug everything and sit in the dark, but I'm uneasy and go to the basement safe room. That's one reason why I couldn't be tough with Monty when he was afraid. I knew exactly how he felt.
I learned some wonderful things from my Grandmother, too. She was a great cook and let me assist her in the kitchen. She didn't use recipes, but kept it all in her head. She'd tell me to use a pinch of something and mix it till it felt right. When I asked her to write down some of my favorite recipes, she did. On the cards I found just a list of ingredients.
She also taught me to sew. She made lots of summer dresses for me and watching her run her sewing machine, along with my love of tools and machinery, I just had to try it myself. Nothing gives me quite as much satisfaction as taking a flat piece of fabric or a plain ball of yarn and turning them into something usable.
She passed on her love of animals to me. I grew up surrounded with animals, dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, but also chicks, ducklings, mice, frogs, toads and whatever else I could lure home. My Grandmother loved them and encouraged my interest. She's the one who always made sure I had a dog in my life.
The thing I am most grateful for is passing on her passion for books and reading. We always had books in the house, in every room. She was always buying more bookcases to hold them all. She even joined the children's book of the month club for me when I was born. As soon as I was old enough I had access to the classics. I learned to read when I was three and have never stopped. There were times when I first started working, when the day before payday I had to choose between buying a book or riding the bus to work and eating lunch. I chose to walk to work, skip lunch and visit the bookstore.
My Grandparents were the most important influences in my life and I cherish my memories of time spent with them.