I always looked forward to going to Grandmama Ralph’s house. When I was there for a week each summer my world was wonderful.
My Grandmama Ralph loved to spoil me and made no bones about it. In her thinking, that was the role of a grandparent.
Spending the week with her included unlimited:
- Olives (which had to be an extravagance for her)
- Little boxes of cereal (Yes, they had those in the fifties.)
- Watching television (until the last old movie was over and the station showed a flag and played “The Star Spangled Banner”)
- Sleeping late (no wonder—after I’d stayed up till 2 watching old movies)
- Coffee (half milk and sugar, of course)
- Intent listening to what I said (even though she was always busy)
- Peeling a whole apple without breaking the peel (“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” she’d say as she peeled me an apple every afternoon. I’d throw the peel over my shoulder to see the initial of the man I’d marry. It always looked like an S to me, so I guess it was accurate since I married Steve.)
- Listening to soap operas on the radio (“Helen Trent” and “Young Doctor Malone” are two I remember. She could catch me up from last summer in a few sentences, of course.)
I had none of those things at home. They were all treasures to me.
And so was my grandmama—until one day when I was a teenager and she “started in” on my daddy. My father had installed her first indoor bathroom, was always fixing something broken around her house, and was the gentlest, kindest man I knew. But Grandmama had a different view.
She called him names, which fortunately now I do not remember, but which stuck with me for quite a while. She resented his interfering with her family (insisting that they have an indoor toilet?), pushing his religion on her daughter (she called him a “Campbellite,” a local epithet for members of the Church of Christ), and taking her daughter so far away (18 miles north, which then took about 45 minutes to drive.) She ranted and raved about what a scoundrel he was, and I couldn’t wait to get away from her and back to my dear father.
Did I stand up for my father? I don’t remember. Surely I did, but when Grandmama was on a rampage, nothing stood in her way.
What I remember well is telling Mother as soon as I got home. I spilled it all out and cried, and she cried, too. Then she faced me, took firm hold of my arms, looked me in the eye, and said, “You must NEVER, EVER tell your daddy about this. EVER! Do you promise?”
I promised, having no desire to destroy my father’s illusions about his good relationship with his in-laws. I never told anyone else for years, until Grandmama and Daddy were dead and gone and it didn’t seem to matter anymore.
I still have fond memories of my Grandmama Ralph, but those memories are marred by that one event.
I learned a lesson from this. I must be careful of what critical remarks I make around my grandchildren. I am an expert at ranting and raving myself, and I must NEVER show that around my grandchildren. I want them only to remember the good things we did together and how much fun they had with us.
And about Bible grandmothers: Naomi did quite a bit of ranting and raving herself, I suspect, when God took her husband and sons. But she was again content when she got to care for her precious grandson, Obed, who was the grandfather of King David. (Ruth 4:13-17) Can you identify any other Bible grandmothers?