I loved my grandparents – especially my grandpa. Our family was so fortunate to have him live with us for the last 10 years of his life.
The stories he would tell at the dinner table were priceless. My kids never knew how much they were learning about history – about the way it really was, because he had such a great gift of storytelling. They learned about The Great Depression, which I think helped keep them more grounded and appreciative for what they had.
Grandpa and I were best buddies ever since I can remember. We would go on long walks in the woods, and he would identify every bird or tree and teach me all about nature. When I was a teenager, we made one of the meals he and his family ate during The Depression. We collected dandelions and brought them back home. We boiled water and added the dandelions. A little salt and pepper and we had dandelion soup. It was horrible, but I got the point.
He always had time for me and my family. He talked from his heart, and he was so easy to share hopes and dreams with. He took what you said with great enthusiasm and interest. Most important to him was that we always respected our elders. He was kind to every living thing. Every person he met was a friend.
When my grandma passed, we were driving home from the doctors, and he said it was his time to go, too – his work was done. I pulled over on Ridgewood and said, “Look here young man, if you think you are going to leave us with the kids heading into the teen years, you are sadly mistaken.” He sat there for a minute and then replied, “You better get me home then – I have lots to do!”
He was so inspirational. He was always happy, positive and usually singing. There was no finer role model for our family than grandpa. He would say to me, “All I want is to be needed.” We did need him, and he knew it and loved it.
I loved the way he coached our son on dating. He told him to go to the door for a proper escort. When the date was over, walk her to her door and kiss her hand. Grandpa knew how to charm the ladies.
We recently celebrated a national Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter made it official in 1978.
I believe we should celebrate our elders every day. Listen to their stories, which is our history. Show them how much they are loved, respected and needed.