Mike Parker: Sprinkling stardust over the lives of children
I have always wanted to be the type of grandparent to my grandchildren that Granny Parker was to me.
My granny was Lady Bell Cundiff Parker. She was born in February of 1909. She married Granddaddy Parker on Sept. 4. 1927, and had her first baby – my dad – on Sept. 22, 1928. I was born in 1950, so she became “Granny” at the tender age of 41.
Recollections of her flood my mind. I see Granny at her kitchen table. She is wearing an apron and has a cup of coffee near her hand. Her dark eyes are kind but piercing. They twinkled when she laughed, but they could flash in anger at foolishness or disobedience.
When Granny knew I was coming for a visit, she always had a freshly baked yellow cake with chocolate icing waiting for me. No one – not even Granddaddy – could have a slice of that cake before I got the first one. As I grew older, I could count on her having my cake and a cup of hot coffee waiting.
She always made me feel special. I just knew I was her favorite grandchild. In point of fact, all of us grandkids argued about who was her favorite grandchild. Then the truth dawned on us – we were all her favorite.
You see, the wonder of love is that a parent can love a child with all of his or her heart – and yet still have plenty of love in that same heart for the other children. However, while a parent’s heart is a lake, a grandparent’s heart is an ocean.
Granny was a scratch cook. She took ingredients and fashioned them into meals that delighted our palates. I cannot remember a single thing she ever cooked that I thought tasted bad.
She made the best white flour gravy I have ever eaten. Her biscuits were fluffy without being flaky. So many biscuits today fall apart as we eat them. Not Granny’s.
From the time my children began to grow up and I understood that one day I might actually live long enough to become a grandfather, I determined in my heart that I would do my best to be the kind of grandparent Granny was to me.
I know which foods different kids like. If Alex and Isaiah are coming to visit, then Hawaiian rolls await them when they burst through my door. Most of the grandkids like my brand of popsicles, so I always have popsicles here when they come. They love Chips Ahoy cookies, so no visit is complete without them. Alli likes Goldfish. Alex likes Cheez It crackers. Isaiah loves bread of all kinds.
Hannah and Abby prefer Mexican. Hannah is an ACP girl, while Abby vacillates between tacos and quesadillas. Laney likes Bojangles, and Luke is the original Bacon-Eater.
But knowing their food preferences is not just about food. Attention to those details is an act of love.
Even more important, when we know the grandkids are coming, Sandra and I clear our schedules so we can spend our time with them. They are not an add-on to our activities. Instead, they become our focus.
Ben loves to build things from Legos. Alli is a Play-Doh aficionado. The video-gamers are out of luck at my house. We do not have an Atari – much less an Xbox or Play Station. We do have cards and my least favorite game of all time – “Trouble.” Grandma Sandra loves “Trouble.” Are you surprised?
Noted author Alex Haley one wrote about grand-parenting:
“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”
Granny sprinkled a ton of stardust over my life.
I am trying to follow her example.
Mike Parker is a columnist for Neuse News. You can reach him at email@example.com .