It’s a huge job.
Tiring and joy-packed, if you have the nerve to take it on, if you are willing to live out the role. No money in this kind of work. Just purpose and love.
I remember when grandkids were little and fought over our laps. I still can throw back my head and laugh as I recall three of them clamoring for one lap.
They call us Mamaw and Papaw, but the name doesn’t matter a twit. We would’ve answered to Meemaw and Peepaw or Nana and Pop just as well.
What matters is that the grandchildren know we love them in a special way. And that we know we are loved by each of them. No doubt in any of our minds or hearts.
Years ago when I was a counselor, I listened to the stories of clients. Some people have major stories about grandparents who made all the difference.
They could count on those gray-haired people to almost sprinkle stardust over their lives! I stole that one from Alex Haley.
What that means is that the grandparents were loving and believed in them as children.
As I write this on Saturday evening, the skies are clear in the mountains in north central Arkansas, and my husband keeps interrupting my writing to show incoming photos of the EF-3 tornado that has hit Jonesboro, Arkansas.
I’m also taking calls because family and friends remember we lived there 20 years ago and know we still have connections to that town and its people. They know we must be having feelings.
And they are so right. My heart hurts for Jonesboro and its people.
No way to accurately describe a tornado ripping and roaring like a freight train through a city. The fear, the trembling, the sigh of relief when you are not hurt. No way to adequately depict the morning after—the debris, devastation, looking at what’s left where you once worked.
This town, now a city. It’s where I birthed my boys, taught high school English and later had a counseling practice, where my husband started a successful business from scratch. Just to say, a part of us remains attached to this place.
We knew every street named on the news tonight. This tornado. It ripples far and wide.
My mind quickly slips back to another tornado in Jonesboro. I moved there in 1970, and people were still telling tragic stories of the 1968 tornado. Just after midnight on May 27, 1973, three massive tornados swept across the southern part of Jonesboro, about an hour northwest of Memphis.
Flatlands. No place to hide except ditches or basements, if you happened to have one. And I quickly learned I lived in a location some called “tornado alley.” Most of the winds moved northeast, right toward us.
Sad stories about losses and deaths follow tornadoes, but somehow the townspeople rebuild and keep going.
People are amazing.
A wagon train comes to mind. Something devastating happens on the trail, and what do people do? They grieve as they keep moving west.
A friend reminds me that if it had not been for the pandemic and school closures, the mall would have been full this evening of young people looking for prom dresses and Easter clothes. What? A silver lining in COVID-19?
Prayers for Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Twenty years ago, another counselor and I owned a private counseling practice in Jonesboro.
It was here, in a quiet, little room, that I heard some big testimonies from men and women who credited their grandparents as the ones who added wisdom and wonder to their lives.
Some of us certainly had better parenting than others. And every young person needs someone stable to hang on to. That person becomes a guide, a connection, comfort, a piece of sunshine.
Oftentimes, that special one is a grandparent.
God bless the grandparents who have been active, whether they have lived near or far. Most of them have no idea how powerful their influence has been, or that it lives on.
The only way I happen to know this is from listening, as a counselor, to so many testimonials.
I once heard a woman say, “Big Momma (her grandmother) was the heart in my family.” I thought to myself, someday I want to become Big Momma.
Tonight I am grateful for grandmothers and grandfathers, and I’m cherishing the thought that we are all in this together…whether it’s parenting, caring about townspeople, or trying to keep others and self as safe as possible during a pandemic.
Thank you, Grandparents, for doing your big part. I salute you!
P.S. Thank you for the shares and for your prayers for the people of Jonesboro, Arkansas.
An always timely message that hangs on a wall in Pat and Jimmy's
dining area. Photograph taken today by Pat Durmon.