I sometimes wonder what my grandchildren will remember about me. That usually morphs into what I remember about my own grandparents. A simple word or deed can trigger a memory that, depending on the situation, I share with my daughters and/or grandchildren. It also makes me aware of how little I really know about my grandparents’ lives when they were young.
None of my grandparents grew up in the towns that I visited every summer. They didn’t even live in the same state. To this day, I have no idea how my maternal grandparents met or how they came to settle in Texarkana, Texas. I heard stories about how my paternal grandparents met, but there are some gaps as to how their meeting in my grandmother’s hometown in Louisiana led them to marry when my grandfather left to live in a small town in west Texas. Unfortunately, there is no one still living that can answer the many questions I have.
As a child, when visiting, I heard bits and pieces about their siblings or saw pictures that would bring on a story. Mostly, the tales were more interesting to my parents than to my sister and me. I really regret that, but I have wonderful stories of my own from my visits that I love to remember and share.
I am always amazed and proud of my grandparents and their successes. My maternal grandmother managed not only to go away to college, but she also received her master’s degree. While in college, she performed in several plays as the female lead, beating out another student who became a famous actress. My grandfather was an educator who began as an elementary school teacher. He obtained his master’s degree by packing up the family every summer to move to a college town where he took the necessary courses to achieve that goal. He then became a high school principal before becoming a school superintendent.
I know virtually nothing about my paternal grandfather’s upbringing. As a young adult, he started his career with a confectionery shop. As he married and started a family, his candy store grew into a soda shop and eventually became a full-fledged restaurant. My grandmother always wanted to be an architect, but she was never able to reach that goal. She was a wonderful artist and did beautiful flower arrangements. Their restaurant was always filled with flowers from her garden. She even had a garden room added to their home.
Knowing the difficulties they had to endure in their lives – two world wars and a depression, among other issues, the fact that they still managed to be successful in their chosen fields is something I always hold dear. I just wish I had been mature enough to spend time asking them questions to know so much more about them.
While in college, our eldest daughter presented each set of grandparents with a notebook that she filled with a list of questions and several sheets of paper. She asked them, when they had time, to go through them and write down their answers. She, too, wanted insights into their lives. Unfortunately, my father was ill and passed away before he had the opportunity. My mother was busy taking care of my father, lost their home to a hurricane, moved and suffered from dementia. Her paternal grandparents also had health concerns, but her grandfather sat with her one afternoon, and she recorded his answers to some of her questions.
So, what will my grandchildren remember about me? Their parents will have lots of stories to regale them with and, hopefully, some will stir memories in my grandchildren that they will pass to their children. I hope I will live many, many more years to see them grown and with families of their own. When their children ask them about me, I hope the first thing they tell them is, “I remember how very much my Gigi loved me.”