By Jennifer Davis Rash
Executive Editor, The Alabama Baptist
“Pawpaw … hahahahaha … tell me … heeheeheehee … the stories … bahahaha … of Dime school again,” Jacob said, barely able to breathe as he doubled over with laughter thinking of the stories he has heard countless times in his lifetime of 11 months plus a decade. He loves my dad’s stories of walking to the one-room school barefooted and all the mischief the youngest of six in a farm family in the early 1950s got into while there. In fact, Jacob’s ability to repeat each story with precision while adding a full theatrical performance to them makes his Aunt Jen Jen proud.
A couple of hours away, my young cousin Trey jumps in his grandmother’s car after school and shares all the happenings of the day as he reaches for the snack he knew she would have ready for him. Granddad picks up Trey’s older brother and shuttles him to ball practice. In both cases, the kids share what’s on their hearts and minds, sometimes more than they feel comfortable sharing with their mom and dad. And the grandparents listen, tell stories that relate and somehow help each one deal with that day’s drama.
Recently I observed a grandfather and granddaughter discussing college, selecting the best major and thinking about what the granddaughter should do as a career.
Maybe journalism, maybe a TV personality in New York, but definitely an author, Bree says. She wants to write and, at 13, she’s already researching how to best go about that.
Papa discusses each option carefully and seriously with her. He doesn’t poke fun at her, nor does he make light of her ideas, except maybe offering a slight grimace at the New York idea.
They chat, we chat, ideas swirl. For a moment I forget she’s only in the eighth grade. Then she says something silly and girly and I’m brought back to reality, but still I’m impressed with her goals and maturity at this age. I’m even more impressed with the confidence her granddad puts in her and how he is encouraging her to go after her dreams.
I think back to my own grandparents and remember feeling the same sense of security and love. I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but the memories of sharing my hopes and dreams with my Grandma Davis and her telling me that I should go after whatever my heart desires planted seeds of confidence in me. She loved to write and always wanted to be published. She made it as far as Grit magazine and continued to write and submit stories well into her 80s.
My Granny McCaig was a true Proverbs 31 woman and instilled in me a strong work ethic and love of family. She modeled strength, courage, excellence and a deep faith. She taught me so much about life and truly understood my sense of calling. PaPa McCaig loved me a lot and I never doubted it, but I frustrated him because I wouldn’t “just be normal like everyone else and come back home and work close by.”
I didn’t know my Grandpa Davis, but I imagine he must be the culprit for my annoying personality trait of matter-of-fact bluntness. Now you know who gets the blame, right?
As Grandparents Day approaches Sept. 9, I can’t send any of my grandparents a card, but I can say a prayer of thanks for the difference they made in my life.
If you still have your grandparents, find time to visit and glean as much wisdom from them as possible. If you are a grandparent, take advantage of every opportunity to encourage your grandchildren — share your love, your life, your faith. You can make a difference and are reaching them from a privileged position.