All in the Family

ElliotFriday 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. 

Scholarships01_1 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.


About lessinges

Seattle native, discovering life! I like ice cream, cold cereal, and The Amazing Race.
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62 Responses to All in the Family

  1. Evil Genious says:

    What a fabulous post, and beautifully written too – I can just feel the love radiating from you for your family as well as your wife’s. What wonderful people you all are!!
    I, too, checked out the charity and BikeHunk and I are already planning our donation. Thanks so much for your inspiration and for providing the information on this wonderful charity!

  2. egan says:

    Evil Genius – thank you for caring. I know we don’t all have time or money to give, but this charity just called out to us. We met the founder on Friday night. It was remarkable to hear his stories. You should read his book which details why he started the charity. Thanks again for the nice compliments.

  3. The Grunt says:

    You are honoring both of you and your wife’s grandparent’s legacies by this act, Egan. But, the biggest part is how much these kids will benefit from this act of charity from you and your wife.

  4. egan says:

    The Grunt – thanks man. Education truly is a gift that keeps on giving. I still may be paying for my college, but damn was it ever worth it.

  5. egan says:

    TayRez – yes, plums. Plums are in season in Seattle right now. They’re everywhere.

  6. TayRez says:

    HEY! Pay attention to ME!!
    I made a comment too dammit!

  7. TayRez says:

    Plums are actually my absolute favourite vegetable.

  8. TayRez says:

    *refresh refresh refresh*
    Nothing! Laziness, is what that is…

  9. TayRez says:

    Okay, so you replied once. I will give you that.

  10. egan says:

    TayRez – I got your comment silly. You hit Post at the same time I did. Vegetable? Aren’t they a fruit?

  11. TayRez says:

    What the hell, Egan! Are you WORKING or something?!

  12. egan says:

    TayRez – is this the TayRez of Old?

  13. TayRez says:

    Ah. I did. That’s true.
    And yes, they’re my favourite fruit too.

  14. TayRez says:

    Ah. I did. That’s true.
    And yes, they’re my favourite fruit too.

  15. egan says:

    TayRez – if blogging is working, then yes… I’m working.

  16. TayRez says:

    Hoo hoo! Look, I posted the same thing twice, EVEN THOUGH, I had to spam-verify that comment.
    Make up your mind, typepad…

  17. TayRez says:

    My goal is to comment as much as possible in the next ten seconds.

  18. egan says:

    TayRez – I will remove the duplicate comment because I’m all about integrity.

  19. TayRez says:

    Stupid verification robot spammer guy is slowing me down.

  20. egan says:

    TayRez – is this a comment orgy on my blog?

  21. Melissa says:

    Aww, that’s a beautiful post. Education is important, less people are going to uni over here because of the expense, but there are still other opportunities after school. So it’s great to give the opportunity of education to those who won’t have any others heading their way.
    Oh, and grandparents are the best!

  22. TayRez says:

    And yes. I took some crazy pills, apparently.

  23. egan says:

    TayRez – I thought the spambot didn’t slow you down.

  24. TayRez says:

    HA HA HA HA HA the TayRez of old is temporarily back.

  25. egan says:

    Melissa – same on this side of The Pond. College isn’t cheap. Mine was entirely funded by the government, but so worth it. Two of my nephews aren’t currently attending and it’s killing me. They’re bright kids and should really be using it to their advantage in college, but it’s their choice.

  26. TayRez says:

    It doesn’t. Well. Okay. It does a little.

  27. egan says:

    TayRez – are you on a “blog break”?

  28. egan says:

    TayRez – what the hell are you talking about? Did you get new shoes or something?

  29. It’s always nice to see people talk about their charitable giving. It sounds like a worthwhile cause…the gutters can wait. 🙂

  30. egan says:

    Blonde Vigilante – yeah, I really like this cause. The fundraising event on Friday night cost $38. I can tell the founder puts the money to good use which is why I’m more than willing to donate. I’m not worried about this guy being a millionaire someday.

  31. TayRez says:

    No no, I thought I was being very clear. I was on the smack.
    But now I am back to normal. It has passed, the case of the crazies.

  32. egan says:

    TayRez – I’m guessing it hasn’t passed entirely. What has passed for me is my patience with Google. Damn them. I wasn’t able to comment on blogs for about an hour, assholes!

  33. Cake Lady says:

    Egan, I really enjoy your blogs. If you ever write a book, i’ll be one of the 1st to buy it. God Bless you for thinking of the Children.

  34. egan says:

    Cake Lady – wow, that’s a tremendous compliment. I can’t imagine writing a book, but I will keep what you said in mind. Kids are our future, end of story.

  35. logo™ says:

    what a cutie pie that kid is!
    I really like the sound of that charity, and I am glad you two decided to do that. There are alot of things with zero return on investment, but something like that?
    Huge return

  36. egan says:

    Logo™ – thanks for your support. We’re very comfortable giving to this charity. My wife first heard of them about six weeks ago and fell in love with their work. Now I can see why.
    Their goal is to open as many new libraries in their first six years as Starbucks opened new stores after the first six years when Starbucks went public in 1992. So far they’ve met their goals.

  37. vera says:

    what a very touching story, egan. (i found you via Grunt’s blog)
    your grandparents and your wife’s grandparents sound like truly wonderful people!! i know that my own life has been blessed by the love and the lessons given by my grandparents. i wouldn’t be who i am today w/o them… (lol, that could either be good or bad)… i’d just like to share that today i got a photo of my sponsor child, jonas, who lives in chad. it brought me to tears. how can you immediately love someone you’ve only just “met”, only just seen one photo of and have had no real contact??? i can’t explain it – it just really moved me. your post was amazing. i can’t wait to read more of your blog.

  38. egan says:

    Vera – welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by. That’s fantastic to hear you sponsor a child in Chad. The last few years have been rough there drought wise. I know famine is an ever increasing issue in Chad and neighboring countries. I bet the child is adorable. Glad to hear your grandparents played a significant role in your life. I know we don’t all have grandparents in our lives, so it make their time extra special. Thanks again for the kind words.

  39. Tall Chick says:

    Wow, Egan, that is very cool. 🙂
    College wasn’t optional in our house either. You could say that my Uncle Sam paid most of my tuition, cuz I joined the Air Natl. Guard to pay for school 🙂
    Elliot is so cute he hurts my eyes. Tell your friends that they have a beautiful child. (I’m sure you already have)
    My parents likve in Rapid City, SD for a few years, so I recognise those signs. 🙂

  40. L says:

    It’s good that you and your wife appreciate what you have and are able to weigh the true importance of what you want against your values….and remain true to your values. No, you won’t be able to put off the gutters forever, but it’s a great perspecitve to have to realize that you “already have a roof over” your heads. It does feel good to pay the world back, don’t you think? I get frustrated when I hear people lament about the way things are and then throw up their hands helplessly because they’re “just one person”. You have to start somewhere.

  41. egan says:

    Tall Chick – yeah, it means a lot to us. It feels good to be able to give someone the gift of education. We tend to take it for granted in this country. Other parts of the world it’s not even an option. Good old Uncle Sam. I think mine is more like Aunt Sam because she goes by the name Sallie. Elliot’s parents definitely know he’s cute. I took enough pictures of him they should get the clue. Rapid City, there’s an interesting town for you.

  42. egan says:

    L – so true. You took the words right out of my mouth. I hear that complaint a lot around election time especially. “I’m only one person, what difference can I make?”. A huge one if you put your mind to it. We can make positive changes to this world. Turning a blind eye doesn’t help matters. It sure does feel good. My wife had many tears in her eyes on Friday night. I was very proud of her and the memories she was conjuring up.

  43. Pants says:

    This makes me want to hug my grandma. Thank you for sharing.

  44. egan says:

    Pants – sharing is cool. Grandparents are with us for such a short time, it really sucks. I’m sure your grandma will appreciate the hug.

  45. Jennifer says:

    This post is 18 million different varieties of awesomeness, Egan.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

  46. Jennifer says:

    Alas, this one person cannot undo the failure to close her own tag above. Sorry, man. Seriously.

  47. egan says:

    Jennifer – I love Margaret’s quote. It is possible to make changes in this world. Nothing will happen overnight, but we can make strides. Muchos gracias for the back patting.
    Jennifer – not to worry, I have a Typepad blog so fixing your html snafu is no biggie. Thankfully I remember my basic html tags.

  48. sandra says:

    Egan, you guys are good eggs.

  49. egan says:

    Sandra – but of course, I’m Egg-an. It’s in my nature. All I can say is that we try our best.

  50. bee says:

    this was such a moving post, egan. i was really touched to read about your and your wife’s grandparents and to hear about the tribute you made to them by helping someone else. you warmed the cockles of my little heart, you did.

  51. Eunice says:

    Quick, a kleenex please! That was one of the sweetest homages to grandparents I have ever read. Thanks Egan.

  52. Cheryl says:

    Grandparents are the best. I kind of got gipped in that department, but that’s a whole nother post. Hmmmm.

  53. Phats says:

    Hey I have a grandma betty!
    I work with a guy who is a PE TEACHER and took a trip to Africa on a missionary trip, and he is going back to build a tennis court and donate shoes and tennis rackets for their school over there.
    At all the summer tennis tournaments he ran this year people were asked to donate shoes and rackets

  54. egan says:

    Bee – I love it when you use the word “cockles”. Maybe I should have categorized the post as “facial tissue” due to its heartwarming appeal. I miss my grandparents.
    Eunice – thank you so much. I’m happy you liked it Eunice. My wife and were thankful to have them around for a good 25 years of our lives which is pretty nice. No tearjerkers tomorrow.
    Cheryl – sorry to hear about the lack of grandparents. We just don’t get a chance to hang with our elderly relatives for enough time.
    Phats – that’s a great way to contribute. Giving the kids of tomorrow hope is what it’s all about. As a teacher, you know exactly what I mean.

  55. Curare_Z says:

    It’s a good thing I live on the other coast. That little boy Elliot is so cute I’d almost want to steal him. 🙂 Just kidding. Really…just kidding.
    I do love plums though.

  56. egan says:

    Curare_Z – why do you insist on referring to Elliot as a plum? He sends his love.

  57. Candy says:

    I had a great uncle named Hal, but he died in WWI.

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