Grandparents...A National Treasure
(from the desk of our Exec. Director)
The role of grandparents is so important in the life of children. Young parents get so busy with the day to day, that they rarely have time to stop the world and just be in the moment with their children. I have such wonderful memories of my grandparents. I remember… that to my grandparents, I was important enough; that they would stop the world for me. My grandparents have all gone home to be with the Lord now and I miss them dearly. I was probably closest to my Granny Baines. Granny & Papa Baines didn’t have very much, but what they gave me I consider more valuable than gold and more precious than diamonds. They lived in the boonies, had an outhouse, no hot water, and no air conditioning. But those very things contributed to my fondest memories. I remember sheets hanging from a clothesline, while I bathed outside in a galvanized tub that had been heated by the sun. Granny would be there in her pedal pushers, Keds with no laces and a big straw hat. My Granny shared with me the love of many things: Coffee (mainly cream and sugar), fresh picked tomatoes, crab apples, homemade buttermilk, big laughter, and the word of God. Oh, how she stressed the importance of Jesus in my life.
I love that I have her hair line, her nose, her smile, her eyes that squint when she smiled, her short stature and a crooked tooth. Every time I look in the mirror, SHE IS STILL WITH ME. I remember spending summers with her and Papa and all my cousins. I remember naps in the hottest part of the day. We would all lay on the den floor with a huge fan
and the windows open. The sound of that fan humming would slowly lull us all to sleep. To this day I still have to sleep with a fan on in the room.
Some of the best times were spent with my Granny & Papa, and some of the worst were made better by simply being with them. Once, I remember laying on the bed sick, and Granny Baines sponging me down to reduce my high fever. The window sheers were gently blowing, and my Granny was singing hymns and praying.
When I was 5 years old, my younger sister Monica was tragically killed by a hit and run driver.
Granny came to stay with us for a while because we were not doing very well. I saw my sister hit by that car and I was the first one on the scene. My baby brother was born just 2 weeks later. My Granny came to help us pick up the pieces of our shattered life. She said she could not have been anywhere else.
At some point after that, I stayed with Granny and Papa for a long visit. Papa walked me down the little dirt road that led to my Great-Granny Cottons house. We stopped at my great aunt’s house on the way, because she sold candy on the side, and like every good Papa he loaded me up on sugar. Granny Cotton had a tiny house with a cool front porch and wooden porch swing. Now I don’t know if Papa just needed to get me off his hands for a while or if this was an arranged meeting. No matter the reason, God used my Grandparents and their gentle wisdom like a sav on my invisible wounds. You see… I sat on that front porch swing with my Granny Cotton. I told her about what I saw when my little sister died. She told me about the death of her toddler, the one I never knew about. Then she stopped the gentle rocking of that porch swing, through her head back and laughed as if someone just told her a hilarious joke. She then asked me… “Do you reckon they are both playing with Jesus right now?” We both chuckled together, shook our heads and sighed “yeah they are.” Then Granny Cotton took me inside and walked me around her house. Several times she picked up one of her doodads and handed it to me. She would tell me who it was from and that they were in heaven with my little sister Monica right now. I found out years later that I was the only grand kid who was ever allowed to touch those doodads. Then she took me to look at a picture hanging on her wall of a beautiful young woman. It was her daughter who had died giving birth. She explained that her daughter is with Monica too. And she was sure, that Jesus would let her look out for my little sister. We went back outside and started swinging again. I ate my candy and she chewed her snuff and spit in a spittoon. As time went on, my wounds somewhat healed, life moved forward, and Grandparents passed on. I never forgot the wisdom poured into me by that beloved small group of elderly kin folk. They handled the hot mess of my life with the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon. One of my favorite passages in the bible is Proverbs 1 “A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality.” The reality that my grandparents poured into me was that they also had hard times. They experienced personal tragedy, death, economic depression and even a world war. But despite it all they not only survived but thrived. However, they used the memories of their tragedies, passed them on to the next generation and showed me that no matter what, God is still on His thrown, heaven is still real, and His grace is sufficient. Today it seems that the enemy seeks to destroy the memories that surround us. We are being separated from our grandparents and grandchildren. Our history is under attack. In a world that wants to diminish the role of parents and grandparents, Covid19 has shined a light on just how important they are to us. We should heed Solomon’s words in Proverbs “Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers.”