Sorry this is so late today. Through a glitch, I thought it was scheduled to be posted earlier. And by glitch, I mean user error.
My grandparents were and still are some of the most important people in my life. My grandmother died when I was 16, and my grandfather when I was 29. I was lucky enough to have them as long as I did, but every life event I’ve had, I think about them, and how much I wish they were there for it.
I’ve always loved to read, but my grandma is the one who taught me to love stories. The first book I remember loving, Orange Oliver: The Kitten Who Wore Glasses, by Robert Lasson, sat on a bookshelf in the hallway entry to her home. I read it every time I went over there until I “outgrew” it. Obviously I never did, if I still remember it all these years later.
My parents both worked, and they read me stories at bedtime, but it was my grandma who told me about The Little Match Girl, Snow White and Rose Red, and strangely, Liberace. She watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with me. She encouraged me to tell stories to her, and she listened, nurturing the storyteller in me.
She drew numbers and told me to make pictures out of the numbers. I knew even then that I wasn’t a good artist. Not only were my drawings not very good, but they weren’t very creative. I learned that I’m good with words, less so with any visual arts. I don’t remember whether she told me that my drawings were good when I told her I didn’t think they were, but I do remember her encouraging me to draw anyway. I wouldn’t understand the lesson for years, but it was there. It didn’t matter if I was good at it or not; if I liked it, I should do it.
My grandpa could be gruff, but not with me. With me, he was patient. He liked to teach me about antiques and baking. He loved to laugh, and could be silly when I didn’t expect it. One time I put a spoon on the end of my nose, and straight faced, he did it too. One of my favorite memories of him was when I made some comment about not being sure if he knew how to use the voicemail on his cell phone. He said something like, “Of course I know how to use my voicemail. It’s my phone, isn’t it?” I retold that story as just a funny story for years, until I realized that I learned a lesson from it. If you own it, know how to use it.
Although I lost them way too young, I learned many important things from them, and I still miss them. They say you can’t pick your family, and that’s true. But if I had to pick, I couldn’t have done better than the people who were gifted to me.