Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

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Honoring the Memory of My Grandparents

grandparentThere are so many things that remind me of the past. Music, food, people, sounds, smells and experiences often have a connection to our ancestors. As a child I was blessed to know three of my great-grandmothers and both sides of grandparents.

  • My grandfather (mom’s dad) was a very charismatic, outgoing, jovial man. From an early age, he taught me how to cook and shared his love of food through traveling during summers, cooking at festivals all over Ohio. He also helped me through many stages of my Eagle Scout project which is still an important accomplishment for me.
  • One great-grandmother (dad’s grandmother) was the wife of a preacher, keeper of the family bible, and was very instrumental in the faith and belief of God throughout our large family tree.
  • My granny (mom’s grandmother) was a selfless volunteer who loved the outdoors and had a creative mind. We would often go out to the Masonic Home to help and visit with people. She taught my mom to sew, who in turn taught me.

I have many fond memories of doing things with my grandparents; they were so supportive in whatever I attempted. All showed me love beyond measure, respect and empathy for others, and made a huge impact on the man that I became. They spoiled me in the best of ways—especially with time.

I want my children to have similar memories and experiences with grandparents, family and close friends. Experiences lead to adventures and real life learning. We have some worry however, because our family is very spread out. My father passed long ago and our children’s other grandfather lives halfway around the world. It is very difficult to travel with two young children—especially when it’s far away. My mom visits her grandchildren regularly. They explore the outdoors, listen, talk and read together. Their aunt Deb (very close friend) dotes on both of our children, especially our son. She has made so much effort to be part of their lives. My son’s first sleep over was at her house. She sends cards, surprises and visits when she can. We realize that our children are young, but these early memories in their childhood last a lifetime.

There are many different perspectives of raising children, but we feel it takes a village to raise a child. We look for surrogate relationships that will make those memories and experiences for our children. As we look back to our past, we want to plant the seeds for our children’s past in the present. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” We are our children’s first teachers and will have to fill their lives with memories of our parents and grandparents. I can think of nothing better to honor my late family members than to pass down the lessons that I learned from them.

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Feeling overwhelmed? Slow down!

Are you a member of the “sandwich generation”? I still have kids at home, but I also have my own parents to care for sometimes. Though they’re barely in their seventies, we’ve still dealt with some emergencies.

In the midst of the Thanksgiving holiday my mom had a scheduled surgery. We knew there would be several days of hospitalization, but we didn’t expect the complications that followed.  Between the drive back and forth to the hospital, working and trying to keep my own home intact, I AM TIRED.  I’ve been at the hospital so much I’m starting to feel like a nurse! But when I felt like I couldn’t go on one more minute, I forced myself to stop and think about the advice I would give my best friend if she were in my situation.

Breathe. Don’t let yourself get so wrapped up in things that you go on auto pilot. Sitting silently for a few moments and taking deep breaths not only relaxes your body but clears your mind and allows you to focus.

Find your comfort. I have my husband and children for moral support, but my personal comfort and peace within comes from much prayer. For you it may be a warm relaxing bath, snuggling with your baby or listening to soft holiday tunes.

Delegate and accept help. Not only am I trying to be present for my mom, I want to be there for my children as well. I am relying on my husband to do things I normally do. Some guilt goes with it, but I have learned to let go. He took them to the choral concert at school, and I drove myself there just in time to hear my daughter sing. Then I left and crashed on the couch! This weekend, my girls are learning to make a menu and prepare two meals each.

Take shortcuts. I love to do things big at the holidays: get everyone together to take the family photo, send out cards, make cookies. This year, I simply haven’t the time or the energy. When I ran in the store the other evening, I went for the refrigerated cookie dough so we can still have the fun of decorating them together!

Sometimes life gets overwhelming and we have to focus on things other than the fun stuff. But by slowing down, simplifying and taking shortcuts, we can still enjoy quality time with our families.

– Debbie



Easter Sunday morning took on new significance for my family this weekend. My husband’s dad, Phil, became paralyzed during a routine back surgery eight years ago and had lived in a nursing home ever since. Two months ago he was placed in hospice care. Since then we’ve experienced some false alarms and were summoned to the home to say our goodbyes, only for him to somehow bounce back. Following one of his miraculous recoveries, he was likely to ask to be picked up for a grandson’s baseball game. So though we were expecting the call, we weren’t expecting it.

It came shortly before midnight Saturday evening.

A person lives on until someone tells you that they’re gone, so for me, my father-in-law didn’t pass away until early Easter morning. As you can imagine, this changed the face of my holiday, but probably not in the way you’d think.

I’ve shed few tears for Phil over the last few days, and the ones I have shed have been for those he left behind. The reason for this is that more than mourning his death, I want to celebrate his life. And what a great life it was! If you ask anyone what Phil was most passionate about, few would hesitate to say, “His family.”

My father-in-law was eighty-two and probably had little else in common with recording artist Toby Mac, but these lyrics written by the latter describe what a young Phil must have set out to do as a family man:

Like I’m gonna be a daddy

Who’s in mix

And I’m gonna be a husband

Who stays legit

Grandpa Phil was in the mix with his kids and grandkids. He went to those ball games when he was feeling better because he’d seldom missed them when he was healthy and spry. There was little he enjoyed more than spending time with the ones he loved – like his only son. They spent countless hours just talking. My heart hurts for my husband because he lost his best friend, but the knowledge that they were best friends is so comforting. I’m certain this very special father and son have none of those “Cat’s in the Cradle” regrets.

And Phil stayed legit. He was widowed nearly twenty years ago but remained a one-woman man until the day he died. The image of him walking around on his new legs with his precious wife by his side is the one thing that does cause me to cry – tears of joy!

Phil left a legacy. He will be remembered most for loving people, especially his family, over things. Which made me think, What legacy do I want to leave for my children?

Well, I want them to remember me as always having time for them. Time to talk and time to listen.  That I always extended mercy and grace. That I was gentle and kind. All the things I value. The list could go on forever…

Then last night my husband told me, “I’m devastated that Dad is no longer here because he always was.”

I responded, “He’ll always be here. All that was good about him lives on in you.”

Now that’s the legacy I hope to leave my children.

 What will yours be?

– Tammi