An Ode to the Grandparents

Today is Grandparent's Day.  I truly don't ever remember this being an official "day" when I was growing up (although I did grow up celebrating a declared "Grandparent's Day" at our school in May every year) maybe it was a "national thing", but I digress... apparently I am out of the loop and I owe Facebook to my sudden awareness of this day and the hoards of Grandparents that deserve some acknowledging in our life!  

I am very thankful for the privilege of living in the same hometown as most of my Grandparents.  My Dad's Mom and my Mom's Mom (and her husband) lived only minutes from us, during all of my growing up years.  We were dearly loved and at any given time, one set of Grandparents or the other made time for us in their daily life.  As I got older, I sometimes wished that we didn't always have to go to Grandma's house or make trips to the Nursing Home.  In the eyes of a self-centered kid, hanging with the relatives wasn't always on the top of my to-do list.  However, with some years behind me and a truckload of memories I cherish, I am now so thankful we GOT to go to Grandma's house and even that the heartbreaking pain of losing a Grandma to the grips of dementia over the course of a decade, is part of the story God wove for us.  It wasn't easy then and it's still hard to understand now, but it taught me some incredible things about love and family that helped shape who I am today.  There is an empathy and a healthy dose of perspective when Grandparents, especially aging Grandparents, are in your life.  I would give a lot to hug my Grandmas and Grandpas today.  I have one set still living and I know I won't have them around for years and years.  I know my Grandparents who are with the Lord would be so tickled to see my little family, and to hold their great-grands.  Someday I do have the very real hope and assurance that I'll get to see them again and catch up on all the hugging I've missed.  I also pray that I'll get to introduce my children to them and even get an introduction myself to my own Grandpa whom I never got to meet.  Heaven holds such promise of unending joy, doesn't it? 

Times have changed since I was little, and the world has only gotten bigger and more mobile.  Who would have guessed that this Iowa girl, would marry a Texas boy I met in Florida??  From day one of our marriage, we've never had the privilege of living in the same state as any of our parents, least of all the same city.  When we moved to Minnesota we did get considerably closer to my parents (in Iowa) and to Trav's at well (in Texas), but I often wonder what it would be like or if we'll ever know the kind of physical closeness I grew up with?  I grieve for my kids to not know what it's like to spend the afternoon at Grandma's or to have Grandpa come to all of their school events.  I often think how I'd give just about anything to be able to call our parents for a date-night babysitter or invite our parents over for dinner.  And yet, even with the obvious limitations of distance in our life, all of our parents have made and continue to make great strides to be in our lives in a number of ways.  
And for that I am so, so grateful.  
Trav's Mom is a woman who will travel to see us as often as possible!  She has cemented herself into our hearts as our "Texie" (she's a proud Texan) and Ava and Carter adore her visits.  We are blessed every time she packs a suitcase to be here, and every time her husband "Craigy" lets her come be with us  :)  We have made many memories with Texie and I know we'll make many more.  Thanks to iphones, and facebook, and things like blogs, she is as connected as possible and my kids never wonder if Texie loves them!  We are grateful for the miles she has logged to make us a priority in her life.  Her kids are scattered all over the country so she truly spends so much time in airports, time that is boring and long, but time well spent so she can be a part of our lives. My friends here can't believe how often she comes to visit, considering she lives in Texas!  
We are thankful that she makes such an effort to love her grandkids well!  
 Trav's Aunt and Uncle are grandparents to our children in every sense of the word, proudly and sweetly loving our kids and showering them with affection.  Nana and Papa have graced us not only with visits, but with handmade treasures that keep them very near.  Papa made the beautiful crib that we brought our babies home from the hospital in and a gorgeous rocking chair that I hope will hold our own grandchildren someday too.  As talented as Papa is with furniture and very recent backsplash installations (mine!!), Nana is equally as gifted.  Little tokens of love sewn by Nana are all over around here.  Purses, doll bedding, holiday treats, clothes, etc., there are many ways Nana has loved us and shared her gifting in ways that are dear to us.  Although a very LONG drive down 35 separates us, we think of them all the time when we enjoy the treasures they've made with their own hands for us!  
It always makes me smile to hear Ava or Carter tell someone who comes over, "My Nana/Papa made that!"  What a treasure.  
Grandpa and Grandma Armstrong are the third set of Texas Grandparents!  We wish we didn't have to travel so far for night time swims in their pool, Tex-Mex on the Riverwalk or steaks on the grill.  They are always so thoughtful to send fun gift cards for the kids that involve trips to the toy store or build a bear or the disney store!  Always a hit with our kids and us too :) Carter has the same blonde locks as his Daddy and Grandpa Ron, he will carry the Armstrong name and who knows what other traits too??  We always have a great time when we are together and wish we could shrink the distance from the north and the south, often.  Plus, Grandpa and Grandma Armstrong are links to Uncle Sean and Jake, whom our kids are smitten with!  I bet my kids would give them (their 20 something uncles) a run for their money now that Ava AND Carter are bigger and faster to catch!  If we lived closer I know they would wear Sean and Jake out :) :) 
Grampy and Grammy are as wonderful as Grandparents as they are, parents.  I always knew having kids someday would create a special bond with my own parents, but until it happens to you it's pretty hard to comprehend the depth of appreciation or understanding you gain in an instant.  We are so thankful to be closer to them, they are our closest set of Grandparents according to miles on a map and we take advantage of that as often as we can!  Our kids have so many memories at my parents' house and often ask when they can go back to Iowa to play?  Because they are within driving distance, they were able to be at the hospital when each of my kids made their appearance, something I never imagined I'd have the blessing of sharing with my parents when we lived so much farther away.  They have taken our kids on weekends or even for a week at a time so that we can serve in ministry stuff or just have a little break from parenting ourselves.  I am so thankful and so grateful that God would move us closer for this season of life!  I love hopping in the car to drive to my parents' house, now with my own kids in tow.  Going "home" gives us such a respite from our busy, public life here.  I immediately relax when I step foot in their house and it gives me such joy to know my kids do too.  They are as comfortable there as they are at our own house, just like I was growing up near my Grandma's house.
Grampy and Grammy are so special to my kiddos and I know exactly how they feel!

Having a blended family is not an unusual thing in our world today.  Sometimes it's a challenge to juggle all these relationships or keep everybody in the loop, but one of the unexpected blessings of a large family is that my kids have the privilege of being loved by so many people!  They are so blessed to be the grandchildren of four different couples.  Not everybody has a relationship with one grandparent, let alone 8!  We count that a blessing and are grateful for the many ways their love is communicated and their different strengths are appreciated.  

We love you Texie, Craigy, Nana, Papa, Grandpa, Grandma, Grampy and Grammy!!   
Happy Grandparent's Day...  
Thank you for the many ways you love our kids so beautifully! 

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