My Grandparents are farmers. Growing up, being at their house was one of my very favorite places to be. My grandma is strong in pretty much every way. She loves her family generously and fiercely. She generally either making a meal or cleaning up said meal. My grandpa is sweet, a lover of farm animals of all kinds, a generous man who doesn't have to be the center of the attention but thrives in the company of family. They are dedicated and hard-working in every sense.
I would spend summers there. Several family members bent over backward and worked logistical miracles to allow me to join a 4-H group near their home so I could stay there and show sheep at the fair. My grandparents cared for the sheep, of course, they did. My parents took me hours out of the way to sit through riveting local 4-h meetings where I knew almost no one and didn't really have a knack for meeting protocol. I mostly just wanted to play with animals and get ribbons.
Most holidays we gathered as a loud raucous family, eating, telling jokes and stories. Christmas was almost obscene with the number of gifts that were included. Living ninety minutes away my parents had to play some version of gift-Tetris to try and get everything in. A game I am now when we visit as adults and our kids.
When I first started driving one of my goals was to visit for a weekend at least once a month. That happened for a while, but life. I was a typical high school student and perspective was not one of my better strengths. Eventually, I got a job and a boyfriend. Basically the story of The Giving Tree.
When we moved to Las Vegas they came to visit. This was a very big deal because they had been caring for my grandfather's mom, Grandma Jo. She was smart, strong-willed, and crazy-smart. I loved her. She was a widow for nearly thirty years and lived a vibrant and full life. Towards the end though, my grandma would cook her meals and my grandpa would bring her the meals and eat with her. He kept her company throughout the day. If there was a bad storm my grandpa would go. If she didn't feel well, my grandpa would go. I'm not sure how they did it, still. I can't imagine the toll that would take on my marriage. This was very demanding, so them coming to visit and see us and where we lived was treasured time together.
When I became pregnant for the first time I would call my grandma at least weekly, almost every other day. She was the only one who seemed even more excited than me to talk through every detail of my pregnancy, her first great-grandchild. I would share how I was feeling, what I was thinking and worrying about. And she would share her stories. I loved getting to hear these new stories that I was now old enough to understand and appreciate.
It was during this time that Derek and I were taking a class where we learned how to have a baby...which was interesting because I was already seven months pregnant. We met the hospital staff and saw videos of babies being born (I had to leave the room). And we did some mindfulness exercises. This was my first experience with anything like that, I would pray but this was very different. We were asked to close our eyes and focus on her voice. I was locked in. Then she said to picture ourselves where we felt most at home, most safe- our favorite place in the world. And I was transported to sitting at the counter in the kitchen of my grandparent's house. My grandpa was just coming in from doing his chores and my grandma was bustling about the kitchen, making me some biscuits and gravy- one of her many specialties. All of this came flooding in with all kinds of love, appreciation, and a sadness that we lived in different time zones. It hit mad hard. The tears came and I was overcome with emotion. And hormones, I imagine.
That was almost eleven years ago. Since then life has only gotten busier for me: more kids, more moves, new jobs. Again, The Giving Tree. But I have been reflecting on how thankful I am for so many lessons I have learned from them. One could do far worse than learning some life lessons from watching your grandparents live life on a farm...More on that in the next post.