Growing up, I was very privileged to know four of my grandmother’s and three of my grandfather’s. I always thought that it was a normal thing, going to see your grandparents to spend time with them. But now that I’m older and mention one of them in conversation with people, they smile or nod their heads and tell me they never knew their grandparents or they died when they were little.
I never knew how blessed I was to have and to know them so well. I sit and think and I don’t know too many people that have had the same experiences I’ve had with my grandparents. I’m very thankful and will never take that for granted! I loved each one and tried to spend time with them all. In the days to come, I’ll be sharing more about all of them and how they touched my life. Each one had their way about them and how they did things.
Meet the jokester
My Grandpa Vernon was something else! He was a character and loved to joke around. Every year, like all little kids, I would run around and ask my family what they were getting me for my birthday. We all want to know what we are going to get! But my Grandpa, being the funny man he was, would always beat me to it and pick me up onto his lap and ask, “So, what are you going to get ME for YOUR birthday?” I’d laugh up at him and say, “Grandpa, you’re supposed to get me something. I don’t get you anything!” I don’t remember when he started doing that with me, but it stuck and every birthday was the same question.
One year after my Grandpa and I had that exact conversation he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Having learned to be a bit of a joker myself (learning from the best), I told him I wanted a box of rocks. He looked at me with a shocked expression and laughed.
The afternoon of my birthday rolled around, and I began opening my presents when I came to Grandpa’s gift to me. It was the shape of a shoe box, and when I shook it, I couldn’t hear anything. I tore into that box and opened the lid to find tissue paper. I folded back the tissue with pure excitement, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw nothing other than a box of rocks. My Grandpa had gone out and found a bunch of rocks – all different shapes and sizes. But they weren’t dull ordinary rocks. He had painted on all of them! He made my joke idea of a present into an extraordinary gift that I’ll remember for my entire life.
Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
April 6th was my Grandpa’s birthday. A couple of weeks before that we all asked my Grandpa what he wanted for his birthday. His response, “A money tree!” So, what did we do? We went out and chopped a branch off of a tree, put it on a jar full of rocks and taped dollar bills to all the little limbs. The look on his face when we brought that into the room was priceless!
It took this picture on my 24th birthday in 2016, the last birthday I had with my Grandpa. He was battling cancer, using loads of treatments, and lived three hours away from me. But he and the rest of my family wanted to see me, and I’ll always be happy they made the drive since this was my last birthday with him. He was sick and felt weak and tired, but he pushed through it just to make my day special.
After everyone had their piece of birthday pie, they all went inside the house and left Grandpa and me on the porch alone. It wasn’t intentional, but that left us to talk for awhile and enjoy each others company. We finished our pie and told each other stupid jokes and caught up on an everything that had been going on in each other’s lives since the last time we had spoken. It was an exceptional birthday, one I’ll cherish forever. . . just like that box of rocks.