Reminiscing About My Grandparents

yosemiteRecently, I found out that one of my grandfathers had had a stroke and was in a coma. I thought it would be nice to post some fond memories of my grandparents before it’s too late. Plus it’s a nice change from my constant complaining. This will be phrased in the past tense, not because they are dead, but because these are memories.

Let’s start with my maternal grandparents. I don’t know a whole lot about them. Part of it is my memory issues, and part of it is that I didn’t spend a lot of time around them. I got the feeling that they didn’t get along with my dad, or vice versa. In any case, even though both sides of the family lived in the same town for most of the time I lived there, I spent far more time with my dad’s parents that my mom’s parents.

Both of my mom’s parents were artistic. My grandfather was a painter who did some amazing work. He did this one with a barn or something and a water wheel and reflections in the water. It was so cool. I remember him teaching me to paint the image above. I found the picture in a magazine at school somewhere. Then I went over to my grandfather’s place and we spent a couple of weeks working on it. For some reason, the one thing that stuck with me was using a wooden dowel to guide your hand, so you weren’t resting your hand on the canvas. I ended up winning awards for this painting, including 1st place in my age group, and best of show. I was 10 years old.

My grandmother taught me how to do this needle point thing. I can’t remember what it was called, but it had this plastic grid and you would thread this fairly thick yarn through the grid. I’m pretty sure I still have the piggy bank I made. I also made some sunglasses holders out of them, but they ended up scratching the lenses.

Another memory that has stuck with me for some bizarre reason is that my grandma liked rye bread, which is disgusting. Still, every time I go to the store and walk by the bread, if I see rye, I think of her. Plus, my maternal grandparents seemed more… culturally religious. They went to church each week, but didn’t really define their lives by it.

On my dad’s side of the family, my grandma worked in real estate for a while, but mostly, she was a stereotypical housewife. My grandpa was in construction. My grandpa was really influential in my life. He kind of picked up where my dad couldn’t. Most importantly, though, he tried to make me a better person without the barrage of criticism my dad would spew. It was about making me better, not about me being worse. He was patient. We fixed his roof. We made this tile enclosure around his fireplace. He even let me use the tile saw. I have no idea how old I was. They gave me my first job. Sure it was weed eating (which sucked).

Side rant: Fuck weed eating. Seriously. Everything from your knees down would be covered in discarded weed clippings. The vibrations from the weed eater would make your arms numb for hours. Plus you had to get up hella early, because it would be crazy hot in the afternoons.

Where was I? Oh yeah. So my grandparents paid me to weed eat the places where the lawn mower couldn’t go. Keep in mind, they have 8 acres. That’s a metric fuckton of space. Also, it was the mountains, so you’d have to hold the weed eater on this weird uncomfortable angle.

My grandma was always a kind lady. Crazy, but kind. She had this habit of being overly enthusiastic. For instance, she had this huge garden. Well, multiple gardens. I asked for a flower for my mom for mother’s day or something. She took that to mean that I was into plants. So every time I went over there, she’d hand me more flowers. I had the most landscaped tree house in history. My grandma had this attitude of “if someone asks for a dollar, give them five”.

One of my first memories was playing “ghost”. Basically, my grandparents had this wrap around deck. So my cousins, siblings, and I would walk or run around one way, and my grandma would hide behind one of the corners, and jump out and scare us.

They also had a bunch of swings. They had a tire swing, and I think two different ropes you could swing around on. Ah, those infernal rope burns! I spent most of my time climbing the hundreds of rocks and trees they had. Then later when I grew older, I’d help my grandpa work in the garage. I liked learning things, but hated the grease. I’ve always hated being dirty.

A common, yet erroneous concept I often hear theists parrot at us atheists, is that since we don’t believe in an afterlife, we don’t value this one. It’s quite the opposite. Since I think I only have one chance at this, I try to make the best of it. One way we can do that, is by cherishing those who improve our lives. My grandparents did that. I know they probably will never see this, and if they did, they’d be very offended by some most of my rants, but thanks for everything, anyway.

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