Never forget your grandparents
April in Glenwood
Andy Rooney once said, “Elephants and grandchildren never forget.” I don’t know many elephants, but as a grandchild for 41 years, I can speak from experience.
We do remember everything.
As grandchildren, we remember our grandparents being at our ball games when we were kids. We remember them attending our high school and college graduations. And celebrating with us on the dance floors at our wedding receptions. That’s especially true of my grandparents, Bud and Becky.
These two had the moves.
As kids, grandchildren know how to wrap their grandparents around their stubby, sticky fingers. They’re like magical little Harry Potters. As if they’re powerless to their spells, grandparents virtually turn to mush around their children’s offspring.
Babies usually have the strongest of the powers.
I agree with Andy Rooney that grandchildren never forget. Grandkids always remember where grandma and grandpa keep the stash of Tootsie Roll pops. And, chances are, grandma and grandpa have a pretty good memory of how many licks it takes to get to the middle of one. Grandchildren remember the wet goodbye grandpa kisses and the matching-haired Cabbage Patch their grandma picked out for Christmas.
Granddaughters from the ’80s definitely remember their Cabbage Patch Dolls.
Grandkids remember learning to fish at the lake with their grandpas and going to Disney World to meet Mickey for the first time. We remember the children’s Easter egg hunts, the Christmas sledding out back, and the Thanksgiving feasts with turkey, ham, oysters, stuffing and all the trimmings. My grandpa was especially a fan of the raw oysters. He’d always say they helped grow hair on his chest.
Worked for me.
There are so many memories we have with our grandparents as kids, and when they stop being made, it almost feels like the world stops turning on its axis. That’s exactly how I’m feeling these days. Just five months ago, on April 12, my family and I said goodbye to my grandfather. He was 87 but he acted more like 57. He was spunky and funny. He loved his white Ford truck with red and gold firefighter graphics my designer brother put on his truck. Even at 87, he still drove the New Palestine Dragon tennis team I used to play for in high school to matches. He was the hero of our family, and we’ll always remember his loving role as our World War II-vet patriarch. I hope my Grandpa Bud will always remain strong in my memory.
Even when I’m a grandparent myself.
But it’s the loss we’ve all experienced this week as my grandmother passed in her sleep — just five months after my grandfather — that has us reeling with sadness. She suffered from Alzheimer’s, a disease that robs families of the loved one they remember so vividly from childhood. Although her memories were scattered, at the end she still knew I came home from Colorado, telling me she loved me. I was able to rub her hair and kiss her on her forehead and let her know I loved her, too. I told her she would be with my grandpa soon, where they could travel the country in their RV and go fishing on their pontoon boat.
Soon they could make memories of their own, in the afterlife.
Someday I hope to be with my grandparents again. I imagine they will be waiting, with wet kisses on the face and a brown-haired, green-eyed Cabbage Patch Doll. We’ll go to Dolly World like when I was a tween, and see the Indy 500 again. I’m hoping we even camp out the Saturday night before the race, like they used to do.
I’ll bring the Coors, Grandpa.
I like to think I’ll see them again in my kid form, because I’ll always be their granddaughter. Well after my years on earth have passed.
Like an elephant, I’ll never forget.
— April E. Clark asks that in lieu of flowers, people may donate to the Alzheimer’s Association and Seasons Hospice in memory of her grandmother, Rebecca McAnany. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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