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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Use What you Have

In 1991 and 1992, I lost both my grandparents.  They were the highlight of my life, as they were one of the only constants in it. As a military brat, I moved on average every two years so these two lovely gems were the part of our standard summer vacations when we would always come back to Oklahoma to visit.

I'll never forget each time we'd pull down my grandparent's tree-lined street and into their driveway how I yearned to escape from our beat up old blue station wagon. Immediately, I'd hop out, run up the driveway, and land in my grandmother's soft comforting arms as she patiently waited in her doorway. Smells of a home cooked meal and frigid air would waft through, as we crossed into the front room.  If you're wondering why the memory of frigid air would ever register.  Well, spend one summer in Oklahoma and you'll know how welcoming cold air is.  It's just as amazing as my grandmother's fresh baked homemade rolls or her green jello salad used to be.

Once inside, my grandfather would come shuffling in - cane in hand - as he carried his white poodle, Lucky, in his other arm. His face would light up with joy as he set her down to embrace me into a strong hug.  The second our heads came near his hearing aid would screech.  This would initiate that familiar chuckle and his common retort of - "Whoops!  Now you've done it!"  His laughter would start me in a fit of giggles, as his eyes were filled with a mischievous glint.

Papa and Grama were and are still so close to my heart.  The hardest thing I ever did was lay them to rest.

I'll never forget holding my grandfather in my arms as he passed. While in an unresponsive coma, his heart rate steadily dropped and with his last breath, he lifted his head, opened his eyes, and stared through me at something so pleasurable that his face shone with a passion like I've never seen.  It was clear he saw heaven's gate opening and angels coming for him.

Another life changing moment was helping my grandmother in the nursing home, as her cancer progressed.  I changed her diapers like she used to do for me.  I'm sure she was humiliated that I saw her like that - debilitated beyond her means.  But when you love someone you care for them through thick and thin.

These two were my angels then and now.

Once they'd passed my mother, sister, and I took on the task of cleaning out their home. I was amazed at how much stuff they collected.  But as children of the Great Depression, my grandparents made use of what they had by never wasting a thing.  Papa's garage was filled with mason jars, which he used for storage.  He also had gallon milk jugs, which had the tops cut off.  He also used the jugs for ... you got it ... more storage.

As I threw the plastic away from Papa's garage, I shook my head that he had to hold onto so much stuff.  But I'd never walked in his shoes.

Last week, I was rinsing out my plastic to put in my recycle bin, but held onto a small 1 quart plastic jug.  I absentmindedly rinsed it out and stuck it in my sink to use as a watering jug for my plant on the front porch.  As soon as I saw it sitting in my sink, to dry and be stored away, I let out a huge belly laugh.  As if my grandparents were standing there at my side, I felt their smiles of approval that I'd learned their lesson.  Less is more - use what you have.

I'm still learning from them ... even today.

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