Q. How many of the four were you honored to know?
A. My grandparents.
(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)
My Dad's dad had passed long before me. My mother never even got to meet him. I share his first name. He was born in the North of Ireland, and I will have to settle for a third hand account of how he got from there to here. Somehow, I feel like a huge slacker when it comes to the Men in my family. My Dad's dad intentionally saved up his vacation days to use before Christmas - in which he'd take a part time job at the Post Office during their busy season. My father has a similar work ethic - you can see it today in his resistance to retirement... Meanwhile, I'm more content than ever to sleep in and waste time in front of a computer or television.
My Dad's mom had also passed before either me or my sister. Thankfully, at least my Mom got to meet her. There's not much we know about the woman raised by a strict English Protestant family named The Bartletts. We can only guess the internal persecution she endured falling in love with a foreigner - and a Catholic one at that. Stories about her are held very close to my father's chest. It creates a charming mystery around her.
I have few memories of my Mom's dad. My sister has a much more vivid memory. I remember meeting Digger Phelps at his funeral. I remember my Dad trying to tell me that was a big deal. It was "pre-highlighter" Digger. If I had known then what I know now... who knows. My Grandfather drove a big yellow Cadillac. Nobody loved the University of Notre Dame more than him. He was able to get my parents married on campus, and was able to get burried in the campus cememtary where he rests today. It's good that my Marquette dedication started after his time... It would've made for an uncomfortable Christmas.
And finally, we have my Mom's mom. "Grandmother" as she insisted to be called, was a very large prescence in our family for the last 15 or so years of her life. If a heaven exists, which I believe does, and I'm allowed one last confession I will devote the majority of my time in front of the gates to this woman: my Grandmother. I regret all the times my eyes rolled, all the times I shot back smart-alek remarks, all the times I put up a fight when called into service. This is the woman that raised my Mother, and I never gave her the amount of respect she deserved. (understandably, there is no way to ever give as much respect as these kinds of people deserve, but there was no doubt room for more). I think the only way I can make it right is when my Mother gets to that stage in her life. I could almost feel the hurt of sacrifice my Mother exerted caring for her mother over a long amount of time when the end was clearly just out of sight. I have from now until whenever that happens to get stronger. Thinking about that task now makes me weak.
Grandparents force you to think about mortaility.
I believe their intangible influence is beyond measure.
Anybody who still has grandparents around today - I am envious...