FROM THE MttyàDeik ///////////////////////////////^^^^ Spend time with your elders Grandparents Day was on Sunday, Sept. 12. While not as well-known as Mothers Day or Fathers Day, I think it’s a …
Spend time with your elders
Grandparents Day was on Sunday, Sept. 12. While not as well-known as Mothers Day or Fathers Day, I think it’s a day we should make a point to celebrate. In my opinion, our senior residents aren’t celebrated as much as they should be.
I had a closer than usual relationship with my mother’s parents growing up, because my mom and I lived with them until I was 12. While my mother was at work, my grandparents took care of me and I went with them everywhere. Some of my earliest memories are visiting great-aunts and uncles around the Elmwood/Spring Valley area. I loved exploring their big farmhouses and bams. And they always had a big “lunch” in the evening, with everything from homemade baked goods to pickles to little sandwiches. While the adults visited, I prowled around the house or property, having my own little adventures.
My favorite house to visit was Great-Aunt Lorena’s and Great-Uncle Lavern’s. Uncle Lavern could wiggle his ears and told the best jokes. My favorite story was how he stuffed a bully in the outhouse privy headfirst who was teasing my grandpa, his younger brother. Apparently, the boy got stuck because he had large ears. Can you imagine? Cousin Gary, who lived there too, always made a point to compliment my Barbies’ outfits. Their house was filled with deer mounts, since Gary and his brother Herm did taxidermy and harvested a lot of big deer. They had a tire swing suspended from a massive pine out front and a big barn filled with hay for jumping. Those summer days were the best.
When we would head home in the evening, it would be twilight. Stars dotted the black velvet night and I made a game of counting yard lights. Grandma and Grandpa would murmur quietly in the front seat, thinking I was asleep perhaps, but I never was.
I would give anything to sit out in Grandpa’s wood shop again while he works on his latest furniture project, with a cozy fire burning in the wood stove. He showed me how to plane wood, how he sanded it smooth as glass, how he measured pieces and put them together like puzzles. I helped by carefully dusting the machinery or sweeping the sawdust on the floor. Sometimes I was allowed to sort the nails or screws. We never talked much, but I learned so much by observing.
My grandmother and I would do the dishes each night before I was let loose to cruise the neighborhood on my bike, usually looking for my neighbor and best friend, Meghan. I made a game of trying to make sure there were no more than three items in the dry rack at a time, and I enjoyed sorting everything onto the cutting board by category: Plates, silverware, glasses. (I like organization). We would chat and I would be in a hurry, but looking back, I cherish that time spent with her.
I was also especially close to Grandpa’s sister, Great-Aunt Lorraine. Even though she lived in Minnesota, we saw her often. We wrote letters and postcards back and forth. I loved hearing her stories about leaving the farm to become a successful working girl in Minneapolis. She and her husband never had children of their own, but she treated her nieces and nephews like they were her children/ grandchildren. She was the kindest lady I’ve ever known; she always made me feel special.
Our neighbor across the road, Helen Jadinak, was also another senior figure I looked up to. Helen’s husband was a retired music professor, and she and my grandma were best friends. She never seemed to mind me tagging along on her walks. She taught me the names of wildflowers that grew along our route, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, Black-Eyed Susans, or Dutchmen’s Britches. One of my most cherished childhood possessions is the book “Millie Milkweed,” that she and Nick gave to me. I still have it. Every time I see Queen Anne’s Lace bobbing in the breeze along a country road, I think of her.
I read a story recently about a 90-year-old woman who wrote a letter to her 30-ish neighbor, asking for her friendship. She was homebound and her husband had died. Her kids lived far away and didn’t visit often. All of her friends had passed away. All she wanted was one friend, so her days wouldn’t be so lonely. A wonderful friendship formed between the two women, because the younger neighbor paid attention to the plea in the letter for companionship.
Our lives are so busy, with sporting events, board meetings, volunteering,kids’ activities, work. But make sure you take the time to make friends with the senior members of our community. They have so much to give. And maybe you’ll brighten their days too.
BY SARAH NIGBOR