Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Circle of Life...

Happy Grandparents Day!

Grandparents are such important people in our lives.  From the very beginning they show us unconditional love.  I grew up with grandparents close to our home.  So many of my childhood memories include moments spent with them.

I remember Sunday dinners, sleepovers, board games, music lessons, walks around the Square and yummy banana bread or sugar cookies from the cookie jar.

I remember picking raspberries from the garden.  Some even made it to the old ice cream bucket we were trying to fill.  I remember climbing an old crabapple tree and feeling on top of the world. 

There were afternoons in the glider swing while we waited for the temperatures to cool or a breeze to find us; and old family stories told at the kitchen table while drinking yummy strawberry soda.  We rocked in chairs on the porch and helped to count the cars that passed on Main Street.

There were sleepovers with cousins (and sometimes without), in beds warmed with heavy quilts.  Peaking into the biggest cedar chest I've ever seen and admiring the treasures or knew I could find a pair of hand-knit slippers or mittens to warm me when I needed.

I love those memories.
My dad's mother.  Raised her four children primarily as a single parent.  Widowed when my dad was 7 years old.  Worked long days.  I don't think I ever heard her complain either.  
With some of Dad's family, a weekend at the cabin near Black River Falls. 

Elma (Hollibush) Dreher - her eyes smiled.
I was pregnant with Erin and visiting WI.  Grandma was in the nursing home already.  She passed April 23, '88.  
My Grandpa - Lloyd Apfel, my mom's father.  I don't think there is a single memory in my heart that doesn't see him just like this...  He worked at the Farm Co-op, where I could walk by coming and going to the public pool in the summer months and always knew if I poked my head in the grain door, someone who find him for me.  He smelled of popcorn from the dried corn and wintergreen from his chewing tobacco; and ALWAYS had those small mini rolls of lifesavers to share.  He watched the traffic in our small town from his front prch and new who drove by.  I always knew when I rode my bike over I could find him in his rocking chair.  He loved to garden and be in his yard.  In the end, that's how he passed - a heart attack in the yard August 17, 1973. 
So many events at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  So many cousins... (just the oldest ones here)  It didn't matter if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, Palm Sunday (remember the tornado) or Easter, Memorial Day (after the parade) or 4th of July...  there would be plenty of food and drink for everyone. 
Corinne (Murwin) Apfel.  She was raised by her grandparents and was a teacher as a young woman.  She had five children and had to endure the death of one daughter.  She raised her family to be strong and proud.  When I was born I stayed with Gram during the week while my folks worked - until my sister was born 3 years later. Maybe that's where my bond with her began.  From her I learned how to love my family always and without reservation. She wrote letters faithfully when i joined the Navy - and later to Mike when he went on cruises. 
She was Gram to me (my mom's mom) and Great-Great to our children.  When we retired from the military we moved back home.  Often I would run errands for her or take her to an appointment.  Sometimes we'd just go hang out with her for awhile.   The kids would stay with her if needed.  They liked "babysitting" Great-Great.  Our daugher proudly shares her name. Gram passed in November 18, 1997.  I miss her.
And then it was our turn...
Our first grandson Adam, born April 28, 1983 in WA.  He is the son of Mike's oldest Rex and his wife Debbie.  With Adam's arrival I was officially a grandma before my own mom! 
Mike and I at the baptism of our first granddaughter Andrea, born May 26, 1984 in WA.  Her folks, Rex and Debbie, brought her to Santee, CA where we lived, for her baptism in our church.  We were her Godparents as well as very proud Grandparents. 
From the beginning Rex and Debbie have been family as well as good friends.  When you have a family tree which resembles a forest you have to celebrate your uniqueness.  Our visits have always been memorable - good times.
Washington visit Spring 1985 - granddaughter Andrea, daughter Erin and grandson Adam.  Andi is eight months younger than Erin and Adam is six months older. These two were the very first to call me Gramma Deb.  
Mike with our beautiful granddaugher Jourdan, born July 3, 1992 in Jamaica to Mike's daughter Renee and son-in-law Jerry.  We were so blessed to have them visit us once or twice a year in Wisconsin.
Our next grandson Kalen was born in Texas December 4, 1994.  He too grew up in Jamaica where his folks, Renee and Jerry, opened and maintained a private Christian school for local children.  His big brown eyes just melt my heart.  As a senior in high school this year, he is big football player on the field and a loving young man always.

Grandson #3 is Caleb, born in Texas October 10, 1995.  Welcoming his arrival were Mike's daughter Tonya and her husband Danny.  He was such a little bundle then, now a long, lean talented musician like his Dad, with a heart of go

Our first blue-eyed grandchild, Mikayla was born in TX January 12, 2000 to Mike's daughter Tonya and son-in-law Danny.

Papa and Mikayla.  We loved her visits to Wisconsin as well.  She had such a sweet little smile.  Such a girl!

December 2000 - The Grands from Jamaica arrived to Wisconsin for their first white Christmas.  Mike's daughter Renee and son-in-law Jerry later finalized the adoption of four Jamaican children, Ricardo, Mandela, Alex and Naidia (who did not make this trip).
Hopeton - lived with Renee and Jerry as a young man, now an adult working at and care-taker of the school.  He was never officially adopted but is family in our hearts.
Nardia, too, came to live with Renee and Jerry as a young teen, and now assists at the school as an adult.  She is a beautiful young woman who has a heart of gold.  We love her as one of our own.
Hopeton, and grandsons Kalen and Mandela. Mandela remains in Jamaica where he is volunteering in their community and helping at the school.
Grandson Alex.  Now on his second tour in the USN, serving on the USS Carl VInson - following his Papa's footsteps in the Navy's aviation world.
Our beautiful granddaughter Naidia.  Graduated highschool in Texas, works and attends college in the Dallas area.  Children are drawn to her big heart and contagious smile.
Our youngest grandson (to date) and MY first grandchild Taten, born in WA April 4, 2007.  

Both Mike and I have such special memories of times spent with our own grandparents.  We love having this same opportunity with Tate. 

We are so blessed to have Tate be a part of our every day lifes.  He spends two mornings a week with Papa and Drahma before going to school. 
    Over the years we've tried to remain a part of all of our grandchildren's lifes though not always with success.  Our visits to Washington have helped to remain close to our oldest Grands. 

We've missed too many music concerts and sporting events due to geography and schedules.  Sadly Mike even missed Jourdan and Naidia's graduation because of his health. 

We just have to be accepting of things over which we have no control.  It's not always easy...  So you just move forward.

Today our Jam-Texas Grands look like this...  all grown up.
Adam and Alexis have blessed us with our very first GREAT-granddaughter Ava and are due with a second child the end of September.  Add TWO GREATS to our GRAND count

Our oldest grandchildren Andrea and Adam with Alexis
Our oldest granddaughter Andrea, beautiful, single, independent and loving Auntie to Ava. 
Our first Great-Grandchild, Ava Grace born February 13, 2011.
Our younger Texans are now Teen and Tween in Tennessee...

Our youngest grandchild is now a big kindergartener!

(Drum roll please... )  And our family circle will expand to welcome Grandchild #12.

1 comment:

Erin Murray said...

Love this! I really loved reading your memories with your Grands, always have enjoyed those stories. 143