Saturday, June 18, 2011

Waxing Philosophical on Father's Day

This week, one of my Etsy colleagues, Shirley, of Wild Blueberry Ink is running a contest on her blog.  To enter, you write about your favorite summer memory, and win her new releases.  I could arguably be Shirley's biggest fan.  (You wanna arm wrestle me for it?)  So whether I win the contest or not, I will most likely buy her new releases.  HINT:  They are Red, White and Blue themed.  If you would like a preview, check out her blog post with the contest offering HERE.  In any case, the process of writing about my favorite summer memory was about more than a trip to the local Dairy Queen, so I wanted to share it with you.

My Favorite Summer Memory:

When I was younger (a LOT younger), my grandparents would take my two cousins, my brother and I on summer vacations. These weren't trips where you boarded a cruise ship for a week, or hopped a plane to Hawaii bound for a fancy resort. My grandparents packed themselves, the four of us kids, puzzle books and pillows for the "way back" into their station wagon for multi-week long, over-the-road, tour-of-America type adventures. We always started in St. Louis, home base for Grandma and Grandpa, and headed out from there. Sometimes west, sometimes east, ALWAYS fun!

My grandpa was the perfect example during his lifetime of "You're as young as you feel" and most days I believe my grandfather felt like he was still 25 years old. My grandmother, on the other hand, was the eternal worry wart. Everyone had to use the restroom before we set out for the day, whether we had to or not, and she was always confirming that my grandpa had double and triple checked details. His name was Richard, and she called him Dick for short. "Dick, did you make sure the sunscreen is packed? Dick, did you remember to leave the car windows cracked a bit? Dick, do we have the traveler's checks?" My grandfather's answer was always the same, slow and steady. "Yes, Marion."

One of my all-time favorite summer memories has to be from the trip Grandma and Grandpa took us on to Washington D.C. We toured the White House, visited the many Smithsonian museums, tons of other national museums and monuments. This memory, however, wasn't on the list of National Historic Landmarks.

The bunch of us were walking along the sidewalk on "The Mall" between the Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Capitol building. The sidewalk is very long and has a slow, gradual incline. After walking all day, I remember looking ahead to that sidewalk thinking how much faster I could get to The Capitol if I ran. I also knew that taking off up the sidewalk for 5 or 6 long blocks would freak my grandma out, so I voiced my intentions.

My grandmother made me promise to wait at the top of the hill for the rest of our group, not talk to strangers along the way (Really?), and be careful. I agreed and began to carefully run (don't ask) up the hill. About ten seconds into my sprint, I heard my grandmother's frantic voice from behind me. "Dick! What are you doing? Dick! You're going to have a heart attack! DIIIIIIICCKKK!!!!!!!"

My uber-cool grandfather, with no prior notice to his wife, had decided to run up that long sloping sidewalk with me. I ran fast, he ran fast. I turned on the gas; he kept right up with me. At one point, he even pulled out ahead of me. All the while, my grandmother was shrieking warnings and premonitions from behind us, and my grandfather had the biggest smile on his face. It wasn't really a smile that said "I'm totally ignoring your grandmother", but more a smile of "I've got your back, kiddo."

As we finally reached the top of the hill, our strides were still matched. In the final few steps, I poured the last few drops of energy that I had into my run and beat my grandpa across the imaginary finish line by just a few steps.

It wasn't until years later that I learned two things:

1) My grandfather ran track in high school. Even some 60 years later, he probably could have beaten me in that race, but why would he have wanted to do that? He had my back.
2) As a kid, I couldn't see this, but as an adult, mother and grandmother I now see that what my grandpa was doing by running with me was exactly what my grandma was verbalizing. Be careful, don't talk to strangers, and wait at the top of the hill.

This summer memory, one of my very favorite, right in the middle of our nation's capitol, also highlighted some things I felt about my grandfather until the day he left this earth: He personified the word safe throughout my life, and he always had my back.

I'm very thankful for all the times over years my grandfather (and grandmother) spent time with me. Some of the things I learned from him were instrumental in helping me to decide good from bad, right from wrong, and why I'm married to my husband today. My heart aches that they were never able to meet each other, but I know without a doubt that my husband found me with a little help from an angel in Heaven who knew what I deserved.

Thank you Grandpa. Happy Father's Day. Not a week goes by that I don't miss you. Say hello to Grandma for me and tell her I love her. I'm safe now, just like she wanted.


  1. Happy Father's Day also to my Dad and my husband. I hope you both realize the amount of love I have for you. If not, you're really not paying attention! <3


  2. Wow...that's a wonderful post! You were so blessed to have them in your life. I'm always so thankful that I grew up with a loving family. :)

    Oh, and I had no idea I was going to be crying with my coffee this should post a warning at the top of the post that says "Touching Story Ahead"!

    Have a wonderful weeknend!