When I was growing up, I was blessed to have three grandparents in two houses. My mother's father had passed away when I was not-quite-two years old, so I have no memories of him at all. They lived locally, so I knew them all quite well. There was a time when my parents moved our little family, due to Dad's job, away to a place about 2 hours away, by way of the old 2 lane, Montauk Hwy. We would travel the route at least once a month during those years, so that we could visit the families in East Hampton.
But, for the most part, I was well-aquainted with my grandparents and as a result, my memories are quite vivid of each of the three. My Mom's mother was subject to having small strokes, some with symptoms that went unnoticed, some that were more obvious, always seeming to attack the area of the brain that controlled her thought to speech. Since Gram was a quiet sort under normal circumstances, I guess I really didn't notice. Although I remember very little of her spoken word, I know there was communication with her as we played Chinese Checkers, Pachisi, and card games together. She is the one who taught me to embroider....even the tricky method of creating a french knot. (Well, tricky for a 9 or 10 year old).
My other grandparents lived on Cedar St. and I would often stay overnight with them. I have cherished memories of time with Grandpa as he delivered milk for G & T Dairy or being with him in his vegetable garden. I can see him now, dressed in a baggy pair of old, cut off trousers which exposed his colorless legs, socks with garters and ankle high, heavy black shoes. It appeared to me to be an odd outifit
for my grandfather to wear, as usually when I saw him he was well dressed in his milkman's uniform or neatly attired, complete with a necktie. He whistled the day long, and only once can I remember him ever singing a song..."Que Sera, Sera." He is said to have done a lot of solo singing at St Mary's Episcopal Church on Shelter Island when he was growing up there. An elderly cousin of my father's told me that his grandfather, who was my grandmother's brother, often talked of Grampa's beautiful voice as they all sat on the front porch of the house where Grandma was born, while he was 'courting' my Grandma.
Grandma wore house dresses and aprons, thick, high heeled black oxfords, except when she went to an event, which wasn't often. I can remember only one 'dress up' dress for her and it may have been the only one she owned, as she rarely went anywhere where she'd need to be 'fancy'. That dress was a navy blue one with white polka dots on it. I believe it was probably taffeta, as I remember that it 'swished'. Gram introduced me to Winnie the Pooh and the hundred acre woods, and often read to me from A.A.Milne's "Now We Are Six" . At other times I'd curl up on her lap, with my head on her breast, as she rocked me in her big, brown wicker rocking chair. Sometimes she'd read to me from a book she'd bound together with a shoelace, Sunday school pamphlets of Bible stories. I will always remember my favorite, a baby named Moses who was found by a princess, floating in a river in a basket.
Grandma would spend hours with me at the table, making paper dolls of cardboard, and she'd make the clothes which I'd color with her colored pencils. Sometimes we'd paint with her watercolor paintbox. Sometimes, after dinner, we'd stroll in what was then the 'nursery', where Boxwood Court and the road across from Palma Terrace were. Then we'd go back to the little house where Grandpa could be found in his worn leather, over-stuffed rocker, reading some book or another.
Grandparents are very special people to little ones. I've recently discovered that many other children loved my Grandfather. He was a nice man, always loved children and others, as well. Perhaps even before my Grandmother passed away when I was eleven, he may have developed the habit which went on long afterward. He'd pass candy to the neighborhood boys and girls, and they'd always line up at the door at the end of the day to get their share. I've met many on Facebook who have told me how they remember Grandpa Beebe and even some of the treats he doled out! One even told me that she wanted him to be her Grampa!
It's a blessing to know that those I hold so dear to me were well loved by others too.
With seven of my own grandchildren, six of whom I know very well and one of whom I've seen little in his sixteen years, I treasure every moment of my time with them. They love me unconditionally, as I love them. I ache for the time I've missed with my other grandson. Perhaps one day we will establish a real relationship, but we'll never get back the wasted years. We've both missed out, and for that I am sorrowful. Some things can't be helped or mended, no matter how one tries.
In the meantime, I will lay aside that sorrowful thought, and look forward to the week of July 3rd when three of my daughters, three husbands, one mother, one brother and six gorgeous young people that I am blessed to call grandkids join together in one place. Our house will be raucous with the sound of laughter, a few grumbling moments, and just plain noise of a family together. I can't wait!