When I was growing up, my brother, Christopher, and I would take turns spending a week visiting with each set of our grandparents. My mother’s parents lived in Silver Creek, Miss., and my father’s parents were in Pensacola, Fla. It was great being an “only child” for a week and being spoiled in a way only grandparents can do. My grandmommie in Mississippi would take us each to Jackson to shop for back-to-school clothes and then treat us to lunch at the Piccadilly, which was like Luby’s, only a thousand times better because it was in exotic Mississippi.
My grandpa would take me shelling on the sugar sand shores of Pensacola Beach and then watch me swim and build sandcastles for hours. My grandmommie would me make cheese toast for breakfast. If you are unfamiliar with this delicacy, it is made by placing a slice of white Sunbeam bread in a metal pie plate, topping it with a slice of Kraft cheese and setting it under the broiler.
I would stand on a stool, peering into the window of her wall oven and watch, making sure the cheese achieved the perfect touch of brownness before I declared it done. My grandma would make me her famous (in my family) special sauce, which is light brown sugar, vanilla and softened butter mixed into a spread, to put on top of her fresh pancakes. I will treasure those halcyon memories for the rest of my life.
Several years ago when our daughter married and became a bonus mom, I knew my time to love and spoil for a week was coming. It finally arrived last week. Gary, who only recently turned 10 and is affectionately known as G3, came to stay with me for what I dubbed “Angel Week.” As soon as my week was carved out of his busy summer schedule, I set to work planning; I had to fit a lot of fun into just one week.
I treated G3 to vet camp at the Texas Zoo in Victoria, which he absolutely loved; we shopped for school clothes and supplies, played Topgolf, took in a Victoria Generals game, raced go-karts at Outlaw Pass, filled up on pizza at Peter Pipers Pizza, fed the cows, watched movies, swam and more. I was exhausted but a little sad when our week was over. I will miss the nightly trek up the stairs to tuck him in, singing the good morning song to him while waking him up for the day and, especially, the sweet hugs and the sound of him saying “I love you, Angel,” before bed.
It is safe to say that this sweet boy has stolen my heart in a way I did not know was possible until we met. We are now and always will be family, tied together by true love.
Last week, I read a statistic indicating 33% of people 65 and older are step-grandparents, and that number is increasing every year. While I abhor the word “step,” I will make an exception in this case, my step-grandmother Louise was a wonderful woman, the perfect example to me of exactly how to be a bonus grandmother. She welcomed me, and later my children, with love and kindness and never made me, or them, feel anything but cherished. She was the living embodiment of what I believe author Jennifer Dukes Lee meant when she said, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Kindness; it is so simple and yet so powerful, especially in the life of a child. They say that the days are long but the years are short. While we have not had all of little Gary’s years, I am happy for the chance to make the most of what remains, one summer week, Christmas, birthday and Tuesday at a time.
Rudy Giuliani summed up grandparenting very succinctly when he said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort and lessons in life. And most importantly, cookies.”
Snickerdoodles are G3’s favorite cookies, so before his arrival, I whipped up a double batch, and they met with his resounding approval. Enjoy.