This past weekend I got to enjoy a couple of days of leisurely fun with my Grandma Barb. Who, of course, is my kids’ great grandma! Wow. We went to the petting zoo on one of the first nice days, chatted through lunch time and nap time, had lunch another day at our new apartment, showed her around a favorite coffee shop and bakery, took a walk around campus and grilled out with my parents and brother and other grandma (other great grandma for my kids! Double wow…feeling blessed!).
It was such a special time for me. There is something new and different in viewing my grandma through the lens of my newly-adult eyes. Growing up she was the busy and fun woman who took us to every museum and park in a 2-hour radius of her home town, Grand Island, Nebraska. She helped us set up “beauty salons” and made sure everyone got plenty of ice cream when visiting her and Papa Sam.
Fixing her a simple lunch was a sweet pleasure to me. She’s fixed me and the other 14 grandchildren innumerable meals, all of us gathered round dark wood tables with bright orange placemats. It’s fun, as a mother, to picture her as mother to my dad and his siblings, to realize that she and my grandpa have many things in common with Nels and I – they were a similar distance apart in age and had kids rather quickly after getting married.
When I feel overwhelmingly busy with my 3-year-old, 18-month-old and baby on the way, I remember that Grandma Barb had a baby boy, followed just over a year later by fraternal twins, then a baby girl, then identical twins. It’s nice to know that someone else has experienced the crazy and knows what it’s like to feel like a newly-wed with arms full of babies… ð
I love hearing stories about her life. It fills in gaps in the random stories I’ve heard over the years and gives me a fuller understanding of my Huston family – who we are, where we’ve come from, what has shaped us. It paints more definition in the portrait of who my grandma is, and how God has worked in her life.
Until the past week, I never knew I had a 6-foot tall French great-great grandmother, named Eva, a fat and hilarious cook who lived in California.
I never knew that my grandma spent a year in California with Eva, and Eva’s husband (Crazy Bill) and sister (Rosie).
I never knew my grandma was friends with some Croix Indians who nicknamed her “princess-stick-em-nose-in-no-business” when she had a scab from an overly-wiped nose during hay-fever season. ð
I never knew she was a baby in a bread line during the Great Depression.
I never knew my Great-Grandma Hazel played the mandolin!
I knew, but had never heard quite so clearly, and from her own lips, about how tragic and painful it was to lose my dad’s identical twin brother Joe. He lived only a day, and she still talks about him with tears in her eyes, saying “Something died in Papa Sam that day.”
I probably had heard, but didn’t really know that my dad was also less that 4 pounds at birth, that she stayed up with him his whole first year, afraid he would quit breathing. I never knew that he had a seizure when he was 1 – a day she remembers as vividly as the spring in bloom all around us.
I had never heard much about how she has lived so long in Nebraska but still misses the beautiful mountains of her Wyoming hometown. I loved soaking in every detail of what it was like meeting Papa Sam (who had recently been named “Most Eligible Bachelor” in Grand Island), of certain trying aspects of a woman’s role in marriage, of the history of AA and how Jesus rescued her, of how my aunts and uncles came to know Christ, of how God healed her and her brother’s relationship after 13 years of silence and bitterness. I loved hearing her tell about the day I was born. ð
It has been very precious to me to see her hands, that remind me so much of my dad’s, that have been serving me in many ways as long as I can remember, now holding my Kaya and Hudson, handing them sippy cups, pointing out the buffalo at the zoo.
This godly heritage, this time together is a gift. I am so grateful! I am even more grateful that my grandma has been willing to be so open about her brokenness and need for Jesus that she will humble herself enough to tell her grandchildren and great grandchildren about redemption in Jesus.
some more Huston family memories…