I have always been my grandpa's "Rachy Baby." This is a nickname he gave me as a kid, and it is my absolute favorite. Whenever I call my grandparents' home and Grampy answers, he says, "Rachy Baby!" with such delight in his voice. It makes me feel like a million bucks.
In fact, my grandpa always makes me feel like a million bucks. He has a special gift for making me feel like the smartest, most talented, most special girl in the world--especially when I am down or discouraged about something. When I think of Grampy, I think of unconditional love. I also think of safety. He is steady and strong. I remember snuggling up to his side as a little girl and feeling so safe with my head on his shoulder and his arm around me. I still feel that way when I am around him.
Grampy also makes me laugh. He has these funny expressions and sayings that are just so Grandpa. A few years ago, I went on a roadtrip with him and Granny to California. We stopped to pick strawberries at a berry farm, and Grampy insisted that we only pick the really red ones, even though Grandma protested that they were too ripe. Well, by the time we got to our condo a few hours later, the berries were complete mush. Grammy said, "See, Jack! I told you those strawberries were too ripe--but you just insisted that you knew what you were doing!" His response still makes me laugh every time I think about it: "Elaine, next time I act like I know what I am doing and you know that I don't, just say to me, 'Drop dead, you mangy old coot!'" Hahaha. Love that old man. My friends have always loved hanging out with my grandparents because they have this kind of spunky sense-of-humor. They really are a riot to be around.
Grampy is a deeply religious man, and he has taught us by his example to love God and to devote our lives to Him. Every holiday, before the big family meal, Grampy will shout, "All who hungry, say 'Aww so!'" And we will all shout, "Aww so!" back at him. (I have no idea what this means or where this came from, but it is a definitely a Grampy tradition.) Then we all settle around the big table, and Grandpa bows his head to say a long, heartfelt prayer of gratitude. One of the phrases I can always remember him saying from the time I was a little girl is "for the bounties of life, we give Thee thanks..." I know that Grandpa feels richly blessed and has always been able to recognize the bounties of life, even when he faced great trials.
Grampy grew up during the Great Depression, and he has taught me the value of hard work, frugal living, and self-reliance. When we were kids and had sleepovers at our grandparents', we always looked forward to pouring ourselves a big bowl of sugary cereal in the morning (Lucky Charms were our favorite!). But Grampy's famous saying is, "Take what you want, but don't waste!" We had to eat every bite of that cereal because he would not throw anything away. He even requested that we drink the milk in our bowls when we were done. Through his example, he has taught me to be grateful for my blessings and to be careful with my resources.
It has been so fun to live close to my grandparents these past two years and to attend the same church service every Sunday. It's just like old times sitting next to Grammy and Grampy in church again--we were in the same congregation when I was young, until my family moved to a different part of Denver when I was eight. I remember as a little girl listening to Grammy's voice singing the alto line in the hymns (I still credit her with my ability to hear the harmony line so easily), and I remember playing tic-tac-toe and the "dot game" with Grampy, our scribblings marking up the paper program that listed the order of the service. Now that I am an adult, I've noticed how Grammy and Grampy reach out to others in the church community, particularly those who are new or who are sitting alone. Though Grampy is actually quiet and reserved by nature, and he doesn't much like small talk, he is so friendly and welcoming to those at church who may need a friend. Week after week, he makes a point to notice those who are alone and reach out to them. I really admire this, and it is something that I hadn't known about him until we started attending their church congregation after we moved back to Colorado from Buffalo. Amazing that after all of these years, I am still finding new things to admire about my grandparents.
Finally, it has been incredible to watch Grampy and Granny with my son. They are so good with him, and he absolutely adores them. Noah is very attached to me and Ryan and rarely wants to go to anyone else unless he's had a few minutes to "warm up," but whenever he sees Grampy, he immediately reaches for him and wants to be held. He must sense in Grandpa what I have always sensed--that goodness, strength, and unconditional love. Granny and Grampy are Noah's #1 babysitters, and though he usually cries for a few minutes when we leave him with anyone else, he never even notices when we leave him with my grandparents. He has a grand old time playing cars wtih Granny (she gets down on the floor with him and crawls around!) and climbing up into Grampy's recliner to sit on his lap (he always tempts him with delicacies like Ritz crackers and Doritos). I love seeing the three of them together.
Words simply cannot express the impact that my Grandpa has had on my life. I love that I am his Rachy Baby, and always will be, and I feel immeasurably blessed that I have had such a good and strong role model in my life to love and teach me.
|Grampy watching my new walking skills on my 1st birthday|
|Grampy with me (and Sarah) at the party|
|Granny and Grampy with Noah at his 1st birthday party, just over 28 years later|
Happy Birthday, you mangy old coot! I love you more than words can say, and I will never be able to thank you for everything you have done for me.