Only the Important Stuff

She wasn’t my favorite grandma.

You know what I mean.  My other grandma laughed when I said stupid stuff.  She even stood up for me with my parents when she thought they were being too tough on me.

This grandma corrected my grammar and didn’t really like my jokes.  That in itself isn’t all that strange; many of my friends feel the same way, still.

Grandma Kirkpatrick thought I needed a firm hand, and she was just the one to lend it.  She made me change my socks when they stank.  She forced me to help my mom clean the house whenever she was around.  She didn’t think I should read so much, so she was always chasing me out of the house.

Grandma Kirk was grumpy.

Still, she loved me and I knew it.  She never forgot a birthday, always sending a dollar inside a birthday card.  She even sent the most wonderful treats at Christmastime, treats she made herself.  Candied dates–or were they figs?  No matter; they were wonderful.  She loved me.

But, she was grumpy.  She wasn’t my favorite grandma.

Funny how our minds trick us, isn’t it?  The years have passed, she’s been gone for twenty-some years, and I’m more fond of her than I ever was.  I miss the crotchety old lady.  And, I’m not being disrespectful when I say that.  I would love to have just one more visit with her.  Just one more.

Still, one of my favorite photos (you see it above) keeps her close to my heart these days.  If you can’t tell what is happening in the photo, the old lady (Grandma Kirkpatrick) is buttoning the little blonde girl’s coat.  The little girl is grinning from ear to ear, although you can’t see that.  That little girl is my daughter, herself now mom to four lively children.

Grandma was visiting at my brother’s house–one of the last times I would ever see her alive.  It was November and we were to have a feast with my brothers and their families, along with Grandma and Grandpa, on Thanksgiving day.  The little blondie wasn’t always that sociable a creature, especially when it came to strange adults.  But, she took to my Grandma instantly.

My grumpy Grandma.

Funny.  She must have changed.  Maybe she didn’t fuss that much at the racket the tyke and her cousins constantly made.  She may have even ignored the kid throwing a hissy-fit about having to eat her vegetables.  Whatever it was, the little girl adored her.

Every time we left my brother’s house that week, the little blonde two-year old had to make one stop before heading out the door.  She would let us help her find her coat.  She even tolerated her Dad helping to pull on the garment.  But, Great-Grandma had to do the buttons.  No one else would do.  There was no way she was going out the door until it was done.  By Great-Grandma.

I still don’t get it.  I’m starting to have a glimmer, though.

The little girl knew two things.  1) Great-Grandma loved her (and her Daddy).  2) She could be trusted to keep her warm when she went out into the cold.

One followed the other.  Nothing else mattered.

Was the old lady grumpy?  Possibly.  But, she loved her.  And, the old lady made it so she was warm.  Every time.

The little girl never knew that her Great-Grandma was grumpy.  Never.  All she knew was this one very important thing:  Great-Grandma knew how to keep her warm.

There are so many more things I want to say.  I like to control the lessons that are drawn from my little stories.  But I’m still learning my own lessons from this one, so I’ll leave the reader with just a nudge or two in the direction I’m headed.

I wonder if we don’t focus so much on the negative that we miss the most important things about people.

I wonder if we all need a little child to instruct us.

I wish we would always get one more chance to tell people how much we love them.

We don’t.

I’m thinking that today we should thank the people who keep us warm.

Let’s do it while they’re still around.






…and a little child will lead them.
(Isaiah 11:6 ~ NIV)

Sometimes, not often enough, we reflect upon the good things
And our thoughts always center around those we love
And I think about those people who mean so much to me
And for so many years have made me so very happy
And I count the times I have forgotten to say thank you
And just how much I love them.
(Sometimes ~ Bessie Jones/Allen Lomax)
Listen to the Carpenters recording here.

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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