Earlier this Fall, Susan’s Grandmother, Ruth Meyers, passed away. Grandma joins her husband Don in what I know is a “better place.” Our family used the Thanksgiving break to get together and remember these two people. A week after Thanksgiving, I still find myself sitting here thinking about what a fabulous tribute that was to these two wonderful people.
Don and Ruth, or Pop-Pop and Grandma as they are affectionately known to us, were a blessing to our family. It is not too often these days that children and grandchildren can grow up and say “I knew my Great-Grandparents.” But in this case, it was more than just “knowing them.”
Since I have been a part of this family, Pop-Pop and Grandma were always present at the important events, the holidays, or just to drive over for a visit. And it wasn’t like they lived down the road. For most of the time I have known them, they have lived great distances from the family, but never failed to make as many appearances as possible.
They took an interest in the lives of their three granddaughters. They were amazed and moved with the birth of each new great-grandchild and had a special way of making you feel like your child was the most precious thing on the face of the earth. They kept up with their great grandchildren and always knew the right questions to ask about each child’s special interests – whether it was sports, theatre, or just life in general.
I would sit back and watch the love, pride and joy in each of their eyes whenever they spoke of their daughter, or one of their precious granddaughters. None of their “girls” could do wrong and while “breaking-in to the family” was at times a stressful thing, once you broke through, they embraced and loved you as if you had always been a part of the family.
During our recent gathering, my brother-in-law noted that they were from a bygone generation – the Greatest Generation. They witnessed things during their lifetime that I hope we never have to see. Pop-Pop and Grandma visited us a few years back and we took them to the World War II Memorial in DC. It was a moving experience for me to see the two of them reflect at the memorial that honors the 16 million who served in the armed forces during World War II. It allowed me to have a connection to that part of our history that I never experienced before that moment.
Thanksgiving weekend was an appropriate time for our family to reflect and give thanks for the gift of Don and Ruth. The gathering of our family was a fitting and proper tribute to them. The reflections and time we shared together will remain with me always. I believe it is just what they would have wanted – a celebration of them as witnessed by the family they created.
On our last evening together, we all gathered around the table and shared and reflected on our collective memories of Grandma and Pop-Pop. Whether it was a story of growing up, the sharing of a recipe, a noted mannerism, or a funny story, each person around the table had a memory.
Grandma and Pop-Pop touched each of us in a special way. Our families traveled to be together on Thanksgiving – some of us had a short ride, others traveled all day long. But the important thing was the fact that we were all driven by a desire to be together to share and reflect.
We smiled, laughed, and cried. As we shared our stories and reflections, I thought about the Fred Rogers quote that my wife used to start us off – “In all of our histories there are parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who came before us….As we help children understand more about the people who came before them, we also help them learn more about who they are themselves…”
I believe that our Thanksgiving weekend together helped me and everyone around that table understand these two special people better and we left that place knowing more about ourselves in the process.
Don and Ruth were a big part of my life for the last twenty-six years. Over that time, my story was rewritten and I was the willing recipient of their love. I am proud and honored that they were my Grandma and Pop-Pop and they will be missed beyond measure.