A child needs a grandparent, anybody's grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world. ~Charles and Ann Morse
Grampa and Gramma Shannon retired and moved to Florida when I was in the eighth grade. I remember how upset Mama was when they did that. Now that I'm an adult and living so far away from my own three daughters and nine grandchildren, I can understand why and how that hurt her. She was left with a feeling of abandonment when her parents moved so far away from Ohio. We kids missed Gramma and Grampa, too, but it wasn't quite the same as it was for Mama.
We used to visit them all the time when they lived in Ohio at Will's Creek right next to the river. We especially used to love it when we got to sleep over. Sometimes, Mama and Daddy did some Christmas shopping or maybe they went somewhere for the weekend. My favorite times were when we stayed over just because. There were always so many things to do there, and Grampa and Gramma were also good at teaching us things that we hadn't done before.
At that time, both of them worked in town. Almost every spring, the river had an ornery way of overflowing its banks when the snow melted and ran down from the surrounding hills. To solve the problem of getting home when the water was over the road, Grampa tied a rowboat to a tree on the far side. Then when they came home from work, they drove down the road to where the water was high, parked the car, rowed the boat over the high water to the other side and walked up the road to their cottage. That was always such an adventure -- see, I was a Cherokee maiden and the rowboat was a handmade birch canoe we paddled to Gramma and Grampa's tepee.
That same rowboat took us fishing, too, out on the river in the summertime. Grampa would only take one or two of us at a time so he could properly teach us what we needed to know. Now understand, there was a right way and a wrong way to do everything with my Grampa Shannon. He taught us the right way to fish, too.
We learned first that we had to be real quiet, so's we wouldn't scare the fish away; how to thread the worm onto the hook; how to safely hold the crappy, sunfish or bluegill to take it off the hook; and how to thread the large clasp through their gills and out the mouth, so we could keep the fish that we had caught all tied together in the water just below the side of the boat. We also had to learn how to clean, scale and filet the fish when we got back to the cottage so Gramma could cook 'em up.
Gramma usually packed us a nice picnic lunch to take with us, along with a plastic pitcher of lemonade or iced tea. I remember once, when it was time to eat, staring at the icky worm-goo on my fingers and sniffing the fishy smell of my hands. Grampa noticed me looking at my hands and he figured that I was wondering how in the world I was supposed to eat my sandwich. Well, I quickly learned there was a right way to clean up so you could eat, too.
Grampa said, "CJ, don't be such a crybaby." (Grampa was the first and only one to ever call me "CJ" while I was growing up). Anyway, Grampa then showed me how to wash up for lunch when you're fishing in a rowboat out on the river. "CJ, you just stick your hands over the side in the water. Here, just like this ... okay, now rub 'em together ... good! See? They're clean. Go ahead, eat your lunch."
How I miss them. I'd love them to see that I know the right way to be a Grandparent ... I learned it from them.