Some of you may be as blessed as I am to still have your grandparents around and in your life. They can be some of the most powerful and influential voices in your life. To say that mine have been influential, would be the understatement of the century. As a kid, my grandma (nanny), and I have been "two peas in a pod" (to use her vocabulary). I remember living with them for a short period of time and also going there after school for a very long time. My Nanny would always have peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream waiting everyday when I came off the bus. My mom, being the amazing person she is, was going to college and working full time as a bartender at Outback. Being a single Mom made it more than difficult to support herself and me at the same time. Not saying this in a bad way, rather she was just struggling as are most parents to juggle the new responsibilities and hardships of raising another human being. Molding a man out of a boy is no easy task I can imagine. She had to get her degree while simultaneously working a full time job at Outback (no not the one in Kings Mills, Kenwood was the Outback she worked at). Now, I went to college, graduated the top 5% of my high school and continued that success into college. That was hard, I could imagine doing both with a child and A FULL TIME JOB!
Nanny and Papa as "youngins"
Anyways, my grandma and I did everything together. We would play ball with me, she would push me around in my miniature car ( you know the old school red and yellow pedal cars), take me to the pool to swim and hang out with the “pool pals”. (The pool pals were a group of women my grandparents age, that went tanning and swam at their pool during the summer. Although, I think they recruited a woman my mothers age as of late seeing as everyone, regardless of age, had a BLAST when hanging out with them. My nanny always told me as I got older how they would comment on how good looking I was. She would always respond telling them they were "dirty little old ladies". All in good fun! ).One of the funniest memories I can remember is taking trips down to the lake, where we would watch the geese. Now, I swear, these were not normal geese. These mean little creatures would JUMP, yes you read that right, JUMP off the ground so they could pluck off the crab apples hanging in the trees by the lake. The red and brown crab apples were rotten and sour. Some of them stunk quite foully; and the trees by the lake had this rotten stench to them at time (mixed with the goose crap on the ground which i'm sure played a role in the stench). These geese would hang for dear life from their bills while clenching the crab apples in their mouths, shaking and squawking until finally one gave way and they plummeted to the ground. I remember the first time I saw this I rolled on the ground in un-containable laughter. My grandma laughed along with me and as time went she continued to laugh, if only pretending, like it was the first time we saw it. Day after day we would walk to "see the geese" and laugh together. On the way home , which was a quick 5 minute walk down the subdivision street to their house, we would hold hands and sometimes sing (yes I CAN SING), but she would always make sure that I had fun. No matter how tired, how hot, or cold it was she was outside playing with me. I actually feel really bad looking back, because she would push me in that little yellow and red car up and down her driveway, which had a steep grade, even for a young kid as myself. Today’s kids don't understand playing outside. Between the smartphones and the Xbox i'm not sure many of them have seen or experienced the “be home when the street lights come on” rule. You remember your mom and dad telling you when you were a kid!
When I got off the bus I couldn't wait to get inside, besides the walks, playing, and ice cream, there were the movies. Disney movies of every kind,! It was like a treasure chest for me! You remember the old Disney movies, plastic VHS boxing the VHS tapes. Some of them were interactive (Indian and the Cupboard had a plastic key you could use to “open” the case). My all time favorite to this day is Aladdin, yes Aladdin. Those of you kids that haven't seen the old one, while Will Smith is good, he doesn't hold a candle to Robin Williams as “The Genie”. I mean come on really!? If that isn’t considered one of the cinematic classics of the century, I'm not sure what is. Those of you that are lost at this point in the story, who were not privileged enough to experience the golden age of Disney movies I FEEL EXTREMELY SORRY FOR YOU! I always seem to wander off topic. I guess when you have such an incredible upbringing as I did, it makes it hard to stay on point with your train of thoughts. Too many amazing memories tempt you off the path so to speak. This past Sunday my grandparents came over for dinner. AS the ribs were in the oven, I remember my grandma telling me how proud she was of me and how “good” my writing was. “I never knew you could write like that, your Papa (grandpa) and I are so Proud.” Things like that mean more than any adulation or praise could ever. As we talked, we wandered on to the topic of the soul and faith. What we shared together, confirmed the things I've been feeling for longer than I choose to remember.
My aunt, who was the equivalent of a second mom to me, just passed very recently. As we talked about her and her memory, my grands eyes shone like diamonds with pride and pain simultaneously circulating through her mind. It's hard to see someone you care about so much in so much pain (I mean it's a dreadful hurt for me as well but this is her daughter we are talking about) and knowing there is a thing in the world you can do to make it better. Most of the time I find myself stumbling over the appropriate words to say with my nerves constantly getting the best of me. She told me the most spellbinding story, one that gives me goosebumps as I try miserably to share this with you and give this beautiful moment any sort of justice.
“I know that people who have passed on, their spirit still lingers,” she said. She told me about one day cleaning out the cupboards at their lake house in Michigan. ( “the lake house” is everything it sounds to be, the water is 100 ft from the back of the cabin on sage lake. To say it's incredible wouldn't do it enough justice). As she was cleaning she was talking to my aunt, just asking her to send her a sign she was Ok. As most everyone does with loss, we want to make sure that the ones we care about are in a better place, no pain no heartache. I can imagine the anguish she must feel losing a daughter to pancreatic cancer. The daily pain, the crying, and heartache must rival nothing like anything I have ever experienced. Well, as she was talking the television turned off, then ten minutes later it was back on. I know that television set WELL. There is only one way to turn it off, and that's manually. You know the old school way of walking up to the TV and pressing that “OFF” button. Yes, young ones, that's what that button was made for! Certainly the television doesn't TURN BACK ON BY ITSELF. Later on in their trip, I think it was Walmart, she was talking to my aunt on her way to the store. As she stepped out of the car she saw a shiny penny on the ground. Not a normal penny, she said, it was immaculate, like it just came from the treasury department, shiny. Thinking nothing of it she brushed it off and went inside. When her and my papa (remember that's my grandpa) came back home she experienced the same thing. She was driving to Kroger speaking with my aunt when she pulled into her parking spot, hopped out , and there on the ground in the same spot was a shiny penny! My grandparents are very grounded people, they aren't conspiracy theorists or people that exaggerate things. They are extremely “hip” and “up to date”. Both of them can text, send pictures, and post to Facebook regularly. Also, they have picked out a good 90% of my wardrobe (I don't buy clothes for myself, meaning I hate shopping especially for clothes “puke”). So those of you that like my “style” , if I have such a thing, can thank my grandparents. But, back at hand, I know this wasn't a made up story. I began to share with her, some of the same feelings about people’s spirit lingering when they pass. I could see the expression in her eyes and how strongly she believed in it as do I! This morning as I write this to you, two cardinals were perched on my hotel room balcony. The picture is below underneath the article. Its hard to see but i tried to circle the birds in order to point them out to the naked eye. Before I left my parents, I saw two of the same birds perched on their bird feeder. Cardinals aren't birds you see everyday, let alone a pair of them perched together.
“Flowers, feathers, coins, keys, and rocks are some of the utmost common items they are most likely to place for us. These are small gifts from them.” “A cardinal is illustrative of a departed loved one and one of the signs of heaven. When you come across one, it might mean they are stopping by.” This was one of the first legitimate websites I came across, and what they had to say, when I researched the topic. If that isn't powerful I’m not sure what is to you. Another example of the plethora of knowledge and faith that surrounds my family circle. I am truly blessed.
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Former construction professional (Superintendent for 10+ years), who understands and values an "honest day's work". Enjoys softball (And baseball, but softball now that I am old), constant gym sessions, and anything that pushes me mentally and physically. After all, life is a strive for improvement and knowledge. Meaning, in order to "climb the next rung in the ladder", you must be focused on improving yourself. If you aren't striving to reach "the next best you" in life, then what's the point?