the July/August 2004 issue of Homecoming Magazine)
are having kids late these days. David Letterman just fathered
his first child at 57. That's too old! If the parent population
keeps aging, one day we'll go to Little League and there'll
be nothing but handicap parking! It's hard to do double-dutch
jump rope with your child while wearing an oxygen hose. By
the time your kids are out of diapers, you'll be in 'em. Okay,
okay. Enough already! But, if you have children that late
in life, there's a good chance they'll never know their grandparents.
And every kid ought to know his grandparents. Especially if
they're as wonderful as mine. I was blessed. I had cool grandparents
and I knew all four of them.
1970, a West Virginia housewife, Marian Lucille
Herndon McQuade, initiated a campaign to set aside
a special day just for Grandparents. In 1978,
the United States Congress passed legislation
proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as
National Grandparents Day. The proclamation was
signed by President Jimmy Carter. (September was
chosen for the holiday, to signify the 'autumn
years' of life. Today this event, begun by only
a few, is observed by millions throughout the
to learn more about
National Grandparents Day.
and Grandpa were my dad's parents. They were reserved but
down to earth. Grandma was a great cook and loved her grandchildren.
Grandpa was shorter than Grandma. They reminded me of 'Ma
and Pa Kettle'. Grandpa had a sixth grade education and still
brought in enough income to raise six children. He loved to
read his Bible in the bathroom. He said it had the best light.
was a Republican and Grandpa was a Democrat. Grandma would
always drive them to the polls. (Grandpa didn't drive because
he only had one eye.) Every election day, they would go and
cancel each other's vote. I told them if they'd just stay
home they would accomplish the same thing.
believed in enemas. She always had an enema bag hanging from
the shower rod on 'standby'. She thought an enema would cure
anything. And, sometimes, it did. But, a stumped toe? A toothache?
Depression? You had to be careful not to let Grandma know
you were feeling puny or she'd end up chasing you around the
house with that enema bag thrown over her shoulder, screaming,
"Come here, bend over, you'll feel better."
& Paw Paw were my mom's parents. They were a musical bunch.
Paw Paw was a great singer. He always sang the tenor part
in the quartet at church. That's where I get my big chin ...
from Paw Paw. It was my inheritance, like a family heirloom
- passed down from generation to generation.
had a scar on her leg. It was a scar that looked like something
you'd find on Frankenstein, on the front of her leg from her
knee to her ankle - a long line with a string of dots, made
from archaic stitching procedures, running down each side
loved to hear her tell 'the scar story'.
would say, "I was on a step ladder. Painting the outside
of the house in June of '58." (It was the same month
and year I was born, which made the story much more interesting
would stare at the scar on Nanny's leg, thinking, "That
scar is as old as I am," while she told me the same story
she had told me many times before. I don't know if she would
forget she had already told me or if she liked telling it
as much as I enjoyed hearing it.
especially loved the climax of the story: "I lost my
balance, fell off the ladder and my shin-bone broke through
the skin," her pitch rising as she got to the 'broke
through the skin' part.
would always wince, grab my shin and freak-out at this point
and ask her how bad it hurt and how long it took Paw Paw to
get her to the hospital and was there a lot of blood?
grandparents don't try to hide their scars. Nanny always crossed
her legs with the scarred one on top for all to see. It was
a trophy, a battle scar, a great conversation piece. And I
thought it was cool.
I said all that to say this, have your kids by 30, your grandkids
by 60. That way, they will know their grandparents and you'll
still have enough energy to chase them around the house with
an enema bag thrown over your shoulder.
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