I wrote an not long ago about grandparents that got me to thinking about my own.
My Grandpa passed away a few years ago, my Grandma followed him about a year later. It’s funny how I go through periods in my life when I don’t think much about them at all, and then something will stir up a memory and there they will be, front and center.
I recently read a young adult novel called “The Summer of Hammers and Angels” by Shannon Wiersbitzky. It’s the story of a girl named Delia who lives with her mother in a small town in West Virginia. Their house is about to be condemned when her mother ends up in the hospital. The work it will take to fix her house is more than Delia can handle on her own. It’s a book about friendship, community, and angels in plain sight.
My grandparents were angels on Earth.
My grandparents did not do the things they did out of a sense of duty or for charity. They took care of others because that’s what you were supposed to do.
One of my favorite stories about my grandfather was told to me by my father. Grandpa worked at a filling station shortly after he and my grandmother were married. A family appeared one evening and told my grandfather their car had broken down but they had no money for repairs. Even though Grandpa needed that job, he went against the stations policy and allowed the family to have store credit to pay for the work on their car. He was let go, but he wasn’t sorry for helping that family.
My Grandmother loved taking care of people. Once a man came to the door, dirty and disheveled, holding a sign that said he was deaf and mute and needed money. My grandmother brought him into her home and made him a hot meal while she washed his clothes. She then sent him on his way with enough leftovers to last him for days. She loved children. She was constantly feeding treats to the steady stream of kids that sat with her on her front porch or played in her yard.
I remember getting jealous when some of the neighborhood kids called her “Grandma.” She would always pat my hand, smile, and say, “You know you’re my little Holly Berry.”
They helped friends, neighbors, and strangers alike.
It’s a quality I want to instill in my own children. Helping others not out of a sense of duty, but because it’s the right thing to do. Never before has that been more evident than with the amount of destruction in Joplin, MO. Sometimes it takes a disaster to bring a family, a community, a country, together. But I believe that a sense of community thrives all around us.
It’s in the food we make for a neighbor when we hear a family member is sick. It’s in the clothing we donate to a family who has lost a home to a fire or flood. It’s even in the way we care for someone’s animals or collect their mail while they’re away, or pull trashcans to the curb for someone who may not be physically able to, or shovel the snow from the driveway of a stay-at-home mom.
I hope that my kids can see the extended hands all around them so that they will extend their hands right back. My grandparents were angels on Earth- but they would scoff to hear it. They would merely say that they were doing what anybody should.