I know a lot of people who never knew their grandparents. Rich doesn't remember any of his much, if at all. Many of my friends have sketchy memories of one, maybe. I'm a lucky one. I still have two grandparents with me, was very close to my other two, and have memories (some stronger than others) of all four of my great-grandparents. That's a rare and beautiful thing.
Saltines with butter, poker chips, tootsie rolls, hospital beds, black licorice, leg braces, metal porch swings, big hugs, fishing stories...these are some images and smells and tastes that are conjured up when I think of my great grandparents.
Black iron cats with green marble eyes (kind of like these), Easter egg hunts, hams basted in soda, Thurns wieners and The Price is Right, plastic squeaky toys in the upstairs sun room, fishing for seaweed in the creek bed, strange fossiled garden stones I thought were treasures, canister vacuums...from the deep well of memories of days spent with my grandparents, these are but a few shallow favorites.
Sam and Lena never met my Papa, who would have adored them and been generous with his whisker kisses. Sam has a couple of pictures with Nan before she died. Even in the half absent state of dementia in which she was trapped by then, seeing Samuel sparked something in her. I'll never forget that. And both Sam and Lena visit Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Kraft about once a month. Grandma witnessed Lena's first roll over while we were there modeling her baptismal gown. That was a special moment shared with her great-grandma.
And then there's Sam and Lena's Grammy and Papa Barker and Grammy and Papa Cole, who they both can't get enough of. Just the mention of their names will bring Sam immediately out of a crying fit and brighten his mood. He has pretend conversations with his Papas on the phone. And even though he won't say grammy very often, you can plainly see that he adores both of them as he runs to greet them with his arms wide open and a giant toothy smile on his face. Lena is just a baby, but you can see her joy as she smiles and kicks and talks up a storm when she's with her grandparents. It's a treat to get to watch her with them.
So it was this weekend when Grammy and Papa Cole came for a long overdue visit. Sam had so much fun playing with them outside all morning on Saturday and showing off all his toys, especially his toot toot. And Lena was all smiles and giggles as she did the same. I like to think of my kids looking at these pictures as they grow up, reminiscing about special times with their grandparents much like Lori and I do. Building these memories for them is one of my favorite parts of being a parent.