Tag Archives: grandchildren

Papaws and Paps

grandfatherOn occasion, I like to reread my grandfather’s letters. While leafing through them, I’m saddened by what is being lost in modern communication. Soul-baring sentimentality isn’t typically poured into text messages, tweets and emails. All too often, personal connections are brushed aside for the sake of convenience in a fast-paced world. Kristina McMorris

Papaw Fitzwater always wore gray work clothes with a pocket protector in his shirt front. Papaw Sharp wore overalls and a flannel shirt, sometimes a white thermal shirt. They were practical men, worked hard and expected the same from everyone else. They were tall, thin, smiling men.

Papaw Fitzwater will forever be sitting in the passenger seat of a Buick while I drive. “Don’t ever sneeze while you are driving,” he warned. “You can’t sneeze with your eyes open.” When we got back home, he told my parents what an excellent driver I was. I was sixteen.

Papaw Sharp most often walks across the road from our house to his with his hands clasped behind his back, eyes cast down watching the rocky lane. I can still see him other ways, tilling and hoeing the garden, slobbering kisses all over Grandma and asking how his bride is doing today, even driving me home from school when I was sick.

But the way I see him most is that walk. The one that follows me through time. My father, his brothers, even I walk that way across the hill, down a trail. Thinking, contemplating, resting while we walk.

Grandfathers seem so distant compared to grandmothers that they often get the short end of the stick. But there are times when grandfathers have made me take notice of the soft hearts inside the hard men.

Like the time Matt’s grandfather told me the story of his nickname “Abe”. I thought he was joking that it came about because of his large nose. When I laughed, I saw all the pain of his youth mirrored in his eyes. Or the time I made light of Matt in front of his other grandfather. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember the fierce devotion that burned me with its flame.

Papaw Sharp gave me two books the year before he died. One was a cook book the other a canning book. “I got these for you. I thought they might be helpful.” That’s the grandfather mantra: Look out for the grandkids. Protect them, prepare them, and provide for them.

They did it perfectly. I love my Papaws and Paps.

 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Genesis 48:9 NIV


grannyGrandmother-grandchild relationships are simple. Grandmas are short on criticism and long on love. Author Unknown

The disdainful roll of the eyes sent me over the edge. “Kaila, you don’t talk to your grandmother like that!” I corrected.

I was a Kindergarten teacher and this little girl’s grandmother had come to pick her up after school. I don’t remember what the directives were, but it had something to do with getting ready for a tennis lesson. The grandmother asked the child to get her things and the girl refused with a smart aleck comment and a look that would have gotten me walloped upside the head when I was a child.

Grandmothers are a special breed of people. They love those grandchildren more than anything else. They keep all the handmade crafts, put up all of the snapshots, and tell anyone who will listen how great their grandkids are.

My own grandmother experiences are pretty wonderful. I think the first time I knew that grandmothers are little a nuts over their grandchildren was when I was about 5 years old. My cousin Jimmy and I were swinging on the fence gate down by the pond. Papaw told us to get down. Jimmy obeyed, me not so much. In fact, I might have said something similar to little Kaila, something like, “You can’t make me.”

Papaw reassured me of his capabilities using the backside of my hide. I took off running for the house, tears flowing, sobs and screams pouring forth. Grandma asked what happened, and I told her. When Papaw got back to the house HE got a scolding. I knew what I had done was wrong, but I had never seen Grandma go after Papaw. It gave me a whole new insight into grandmothers.

Grandma braided my hair before school, turned off the television and talked to me after school, provided snacks and treats, and offered encouragement. Once I made homemade egg noodles from her directions, and when I told her I had actually managed to make them, her response was immediate: “I knew you could.”

Two other grandmothers came into my life as an adult. My husband’s grandmothers took me as their own. I sent them cards and letters. They gave me food and presents. One in particular would take the poor newlyweds to her pantry and we would leave with bags full of food. They delighted in giving to us.

Even later I had the privilege of creating grandmothers. I have watched my mother and mother-in-law learn about Pokemon because it was what the boys wanted to play. I have pictures of my mother-in-law doing somersaults in the family room because the boys were showing her how. They have taken the boys shopping, out to eat, my mom is even learning to text so she can talk to them the way young people talk these days.

Yes, grandmothers are very special people. They have a lasting influence, precious and dear. I love you, Grandma.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6 NIV