Give Grandma A Kiss Goodbye

We all have thousands and thousands of memories in our lives. Some of the events that we recall seem as if they just happened yesterday, while others are more difficult to remember. As I have aged, I have noticed that my short term memory is slipping. Sometimes I can remember better what happened fifty or sixty years ago…than what happened two weeks ago.

Very few people can remember much of anything that occurred when they were younger than age five. But amazingly, some of those moments are still etched in my mind…the capgun, holster, and cowboy hat I received for my birthday, the Captain Hook boat that Santa brought, the scary nights sleeping upstairs alone with my head under the covers, the “Teddy Bear of Bumpkin Hollow” book that my parents read to me hundreds of times…just to name a few.

I spent quite a bit of time with my Grandpa and Grandma Dale, who babysat me when Dad and Mom went out for a night of fun, and then later on when Dad and my uncles farmed their ground. They lived just two miles away, and I was at their home quite often, so I have many cherished memories of being with them.

My grandparents on mother’s side, Orville and Ella Grimes, lived in Crawfordsville. I was able to visit with them, but not near as much. Mom had five brothers…James, Donald, Ralph, Herman, and Charlie…along with one sister, Elizabeth “Libby” (Baker). Their home, an old two-story house, was located at the very top of Danville Avenue, and I still remember visiting there before I started first grade at the age of five. I can remember Grandpa Grimes smoking a pipe and reading the newspaper as Grandma Grimes read to me Little Golden books. I remember the apple trees in the yard to the north of the house, and the steep embankment that led down to the sidewalk. I remember red velvet curtains that hung in front of the stairs that led to the second floor. I remember the family gatherings and my uncles, all of whom had served in the military, telling stories of their adventures. And I remember Aunt Libby’s kids, Ronnie and Judy Baker, playing hide and seek with me in that large house.

But my most vivid memory is when I was 4 1/2 years old in 1953. Grandma Grimes was lying in hospital-type bed in the front room. There was a nurse, dressed all in white, also present in the room. When I went into the room to greet Grandma, her eyes were closed and she appeared to be alseep. My folks took me back to the living room, and I played jacks as my parents talked to my uncles and aunts in the kitchen…and then I headed outside to play. After a while, Mom told me that Grandma was awake and wanted to see me before we headed back home to Darlington.

The head of the bed had been raised, so that Grandma appeared to be sitting up. She looked very tired, but still had that same big smile on her face when she spotted me. My Dad placed a small step stool near the bed for me to stand on, and Mom said, “Now give Grandma a big kiss…because you might not see her for awhile.” And of course, I gave her a big smooch on the cheek…and she gave me a big hug…and held on to me more tightly than her normal hugs. As I stepped down, I waved goodbye, and Grandma told me she loved me and to be a good little boy.

That was the last time I saw my Grandma Grimes. I still have the clipping from the newspaper dated April 29, 1953: “Mrs. Ella C. Grimes, 54, wife of Orville R. Grimes, died at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday at the family home, 1003 Danville Ave. She had been in failing health the past year and seriously ill since suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.”

I found the following poem recently..the author is unknown:

“Grandma, your life was full of loving deeds, forever thoughtful of our special needs. Today and tomorrow, my whole life through, I will always love and cherish you. There was magic in grandmother’s touch, and sunshine in her smile. There was love in everything she did to make our lives worthwhile. We found both hope and courage just by looking in her eyes. Her laughter was a source of joy, her words warm and wise. There was kindness and compassion found in her embrace, and shining down from Heaven above we see the glow of Grandma’s face.”

I know why I fondly remember my Grandma Grimes, even though I knew her for just a short time as a little child…because as someone once said, “Grandmothers hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.”

If your Grandma is still living, go give her a big kiss on the cheek today. And while you’re at it, give your Grandpa a big hug, too! Quoting author Alex Haley, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” They may have silver in their hair, but they have gold in their hearts.

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.