Friday, July 9, 2010

The importance of grandmothers

I have very vivid memories of my grandmothers, especially my Grandmother Hampton. In the summer, my sister and I would spend a lot of time with my grandparents while my parents worked in the restaurant, which our family owned. Each week my grandparents would go on an excursion to a small town called Buena Vista to visit a country store there for groceries. My grandparents would load me and my sister into my grandfather's old turquoise blue and white pickup truck for the short three or four mile drive, and my sister and I would sit between my grandparents on that ride. Grandfather would always wear his summer hat and a pair of freshly pressed overalls on this trip, and Grandmother would always don one of her better dresses. When we arrived at the store, my grandmother would instruct me and my sister to go and pick out a box of cereal or other breakfast item, something special that we would like for lunch one day (usually Spaghettios) and then finally, we were to pick out some candy from behind the glass case for a treat. My sister and I truly looked forward to seeing all of the new items behind the glass, in addition to getting some of our favorites such as Sugar Daddy caramel lollipops, pixie sticks and those truly awful candy cigarettes. No matter what we picked out from behind the glass, I never remember my grandmother saying "no" even when saying "yes" to the candy cigarettes would get her into trouble with my mom.

Isn't that why we love our grandmothers...for saying "yes" when our parents would say "no"? Grandmothers dote on us and spoil us. They regale us with stories of days gone by and listen to all our tales of childhood life with earnest interest. Grandmothers always have a hug for us when we have fallen off of our bicycles and skinned our knees. And, after we stop crying, there is an outstretched hand holding our favorite shortbread cookie because the cookie jar is always full at Grandma's house.

I can't imagine how different my childhood would have been without my grandmother, and I am glad that I don't have to. I am also thankful that my daughter has a wonderful grandmother who takes her swimming, who loves playing games with her, and who always has a full cookie jar. But, there is another grandmother that I have never met for whom I very thankful. I don't even know her name.

In Bulgaria, the orphanage where my son currently lives participates in the surrogate granny programme. My son has a wonderful woman who he calls his "baba" or grandmother who comes and provides care and education to him on an individual basis five days a week for four to five hours. She feeds him, plays with him, sing songs with him, holds him and encourage him. She is teaching him to love and be loved, and I will never be able to thank her enough. I pray for my son's caregivers daily, but I especially pray for his baba. And when the adoption is official, I want to help him keep fond memories of her because she has been a very important part of his life.

"If a child is given love, he becomes loving...If he's helped when he needs help, he becomes helpful. And if he has been truly valued at home...he grows up secure enough to look beyond himself to the welfare of others." ....Dr. Joyce Brothers...

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