This I Believe

Lois - West Bloomfield, Michigan
Entered on November 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family

THIS I BELIEVE

I believe in grandparents; memories they share with us, their wealth of knowledge for unforgettable events, and all the woebegone aspects of life: Buying gas for $.10/gallon and bread for pennies, waiting for the ice and milk trucks to deliver fresh goods, the old Hudson’s building and street cars that transported them Downtown. Simpler times.

I really didn’t know my grandfathers, although I have a distinct recollection of sitting on Grandpa Grezcyk’s lap before I was one year old. He moved to Michigan from a farm in Wisconsin, perhaps distilling in me a passion for the outdoors and hard work. Grandpa Paquin dies before I was born, but I can imagine his crackly voice and demure stature, greeting us in the dining room, surrounded by chintz curtains.

Grandma Paquin loved knitting, producing matching blue sweaters for the four siblings. I always received a gift on my sister Linda’s birthday. (Dad didn’t approve, but I never complained.) Nights at Grandma’s house always included Lawrence Welk. Summer days say the historic push-mower, with us fighting over who got to push it. Grandma spoke funny French words when she got mad and hated the advent of the I-75 Expressway that emerged in front of her house. She didn’t much like change and I can’t say I blame her. Grandma liked going to the local grocer and neighborhood church with her friend Lucille. She was a stern, if not passionate, woman but she loved her grandkids and showed it.

The last of my grandparents, Grandma Greczyk, passed away when I was 25. I relish the stories she told of plucking chickens and life without indoor plumbing. How she loved taking the Boblo boat to the island, but would never fly in a plane. Her English was not so good, so “three” sounded like “tree” which made us all giggle. There was always candy in dishes when we visited and the smell of kielbasa on the stove (thank God I never had to make it.) Her family reunions at the park brought together faces and languages that I struggled to comprehend. However, my fondest memory of Babci is bringing her flowers as I grew older, reminiscing of the fragrant magnolias and lilacs filling her yard. I still plant flowers at her greave to this day.

I try to see what grandparents are like by watching my own parents interact with their grandkids; teaching them to shoot and swim, spending tireless hours assisting them with proms and projects, doing the same things parents do, but in a different, perhaps wiser, way.

Max Lucado wrote about a man who wanted to “adopt” another family, having outlived his natural family. He placed an ad and received hundreds of responses. Finally, he selected a family in which each member had written a letter to him. While other families sounded sincere, it was the individual messages that formed his decision.

I wonder if I should place an ad to be “adopted” by two grandparents.