Friday night my wife and I attended a fund raiser for the non-profit Room to Read I mentioned in my last post. I got a tad bit drunk on the donated beer, but still had a great time. What could I expect though considering I had little in my stomach before downing a 32 ounce cup of micro brew. My wife really loves this charity and I can’t blame her. We ended up donating five times the amount of money we had anticipated, creating a scholarship in Africa. The money should allow a girl to go to school for ten years in honor of my wife’s grandma.
I never met my wife’s grandma Betty, but I’ve heard many great things about her. She was a firm believer in education which is why she and her husband Hal set money aside for their grandchildren to attend college. It was a very nice gesture on their part and my wife took full advantage. Betty passed away about seven months before my wife and I met in 1998. Hal passed away about a year after, thankfully I had a chance to meet him. He seemed like a good guy, full of energy and someone who definitely inspired my wife. My wife has very fond memories of both of them.
My favorite story is about their road trip to Seattle in 1996 from Chicago. My wife had recently graduated from college in Boston and decided to head west to Seattle. She was ready to begin her post college career/life. She rode to Seattle with her mom and grandma at the tender age of 22. My wife kept a journal detailing their week long voyage, including all their sightseeing stops. Some days were more stressful than others, but it sounds like the experiences were memorable all the same. Her grandma Betty enjoyed reading signs out loud.
"Corn Palace 62 miles", "McDonald’s next right", "Jim’s country store", "Wall Drug 213 miles"
I wish I had a chance to meet Betty since my wife speaks highly of her. It got me thinking about the impact of my own grandparents. I loved Charlie and Violet something fierce. They were so great to me and my siblings. When I was about 8 years old, I recall writing a letter in cursive for my class about the significance of my grandfather. My grade school teacher sent the letter to him and my grandfather put it in proper frame. My grandfather was left handed so there are many things I do left handed today which serves as a good reminder to his role in my life. Like my wife’s grandparents, Charlie also stressed the importance of education. Not going to college wasn’t an option.
About the same age I wrote the letter to my grandpa I made certain I knew how to get to their house. I was one of seven kids and there were a few rough times as a kid. They were actually quite seldom as I look back on my childhood fondly. For whatever reason though I thought it was very important to remember how to get to their house. Well, not too big of a deal, but they did live 160 miles away in Vancouver, Washington. When we did visit them, I shadowed my grandpa around their house like a baby kangaroo. I watched him mow the lawn, work on his Plymouth, pick fruit from their trees, cook the turkey, and change the water in the bird bath. I looked up to him immensely and was saddened when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s late in life. His wife died of Alzheimer’s in the late 80’s and couldn’t recognize people for her final 7-8 years.
The common thread between my grandparents and my wife’s grandparents is unconditional love. They wanted the best for us no matter what it took. This is why we had no problem giving money to a worthwhile charity promising education to those less fortunate. Sure it was money we could have used to replace our gutters on our house, but we already have a roof over our heads. We both have been given many great opportunities thanks to our grandparents foresight. The scholarship makes it possible for a girl, who would otherwise not have access to education, to attend school through the secondary level.
P.S. the boy pictured at the top of this post is our friend’s son Elliot. He’s so damn adorable I had to post his picture from our Saturday together. The kid picks some mean plums.