This past week I have had the opportunity to come spend some time with my grandparents and extended family that live in North Carolina. Usually my trips only ever last a few days and I only get a few minutes with everyone after it is all said and done. This trip for Thanksgiving has been very different because I came up 4 days early due to my grandmother being really sick. My mom knew she needed to come help any way she could and I didn’t want her to drive the trip alone so I packed up a bunch of stuff for my son and I in about 10 minutes and we jumped in the car with her.
The trip has been such a blessing already. I have had some great time to talk to my family members and have especially had some extra time with my Granddaddy. One thing that I love most about him is that he loves to tell stories and he really tells some interesting ones that remind me how much things have changed in his 85 plus year lifetime. Another thing about his stories are that they really can teach a life lesson. I want to just share a few of his stories, really briefly while I’m here, mainly so I do not forget them and will have them after he is gone.
This afternoon while eating lunch we were discussing the complexity of this toy that my son Landon was messing with at the table. He sat there for a minute and tried to remember, as hard as he could, the most complex toy he played with as a kid. He mentioned a fire truck and laughed at the fact that it had been so long he could hardly remember. Then he began to talk about his experience at Christmas each year as a child.
My granddaddy began describing to me what he and the rest of his siblings could expect each year for Christmas. He told me about how each year his parents would put a collection of candies, fruit and a single toy into an old shoebox for each of them. He seemed very nostalgic as he talked about the times, as if he didn’t feel cheated at all. He seemed so thankful. It amazed me as I began to think about the ever-growing laundry list my 5 year old has already started accumulating for Christmas in the last 72 hours and the way I grew up during the holidays. His story blew me away and reminded me how much I really take for granted.
As he continued talking he began explaining to me the intricacies of growing up in a small farm family raising tobacco in the 1920’s. He explained to me how they would cure the leaves, wrap them, put them onto a neighbors truck and took their crop into town for sale.It was this time each year, when they sold the yearly crop that was another great memory for my granddaddy. He told me how his dad would bring home one or even two big bags of fruit after he came back from selling the crop each year! This was something the kids really looked forward to. Imagine this, they spent hours and hours after school all year long laboring and their biggest payoff as a kid was a bag of fruit. It blows my mind honestly, trying to imagine a kid doing that in modern day America and not complaining.
Its amazing all the details that went into their work and really how much time they invested. My grandfather never played sports because it was expected of him to come home after school to work on the farm. The world was so different then and just in a few short conversations I have taken so much from his new stories and even the ones I’ve heard several times before.
Another thing that I have learned more from than anything else has been watching him take care of my granny. He helps feed, bathe and clean up after her almost constantly and does it all with patience and kindness. They have been married well over 50 years and have spent pretty much their entire lives together. Watching him serve her is a huge challenge for me on how I “serve” those I love around me. It also has helped me realize that marriage and love isn’t so much about all the pretty stuff at the beginning but the willingness to sacrifice and serve at the end.
This post has ended up far longer than I wanted it to end up, but I still want to mention one last thing. My granny was scared she was going to die for a few days last week. When we first came to visit, I sat and prayed with her and she began telling me how good Grandaddy has been to her. She told me how earlier that day he had come in and said, “You’re the best thing that happened to me, I love you so much honey…” My heart melted when she told me what he had said to her. She cried as she told me how sweet he was. Its amazing how your priorities change when you realize how brief life really is.