10/14/2012

The Good Ole Cheek


Something happened yesterday that reminded me of my grandpa. I was at lunch with my grand-daughter and she kept reaching over and pinching my cheeks with her hands.  In her excitement to see me, she could not contain herself, nor find a way to express it other than just busting out this tight huge smile and squeezing just as hard as she could.  Yep, she had some of the Italian blood in her. I knew then and there, my Grandpa was smiling with joy at his great-great grand-daughter!

When I was a little girl, every time we were met at the door to walk into Grandma Gliatt’s house, Grandpa was always right there behind her all smiles.  The next thing to come was the dreaded cheek pinching.  It was Grandpa’s way of being endearing and no one had the heart to tell him it hurt like hell.   We loved him just the same. His face always had the kindest smile on it with a twinkle in his eye but when he grabbed your cheek and shook it, you prayed the minute went quickly.  When Ava did that yesterday, if I closed my eyes, I could have swore it was Grandpa again coming back to cheek on me again!

 It makes me reflect on just how much time has truly gone by since he passed away, both of my grandparents. They were from Italy and when they died, a rich history went with them.  The stories they would tell us of their life, when we could understand their dialect, which could be a challenge, were fascinating.  I wish I had more time with them to hear more stories.   It helps me understand where I came from, part of who I am today.

An integral part of growing up should be listening to older generations tell stories of days gone by.  These are the best history lessons of life.   Children need exposure to many role models and thrive on adult attention from more than just their parents.  I remember one older senior citizen named Louise that lived next to one of my grandparents.  She was an invalid with no legs.   I use to go over and visit her every time we saw those particular grandparents. She would weave on her big loom and also tell me elaborate stories of her years where she was courted and attending galas and enjoying life to the fullest.  These visits were treasured by both her and me.  It gave Louise an opportunity to share a glimpse back over the wonderful life that she had led.  This mutual time gave me a chance to peak into a world I would never know existed.  

I sometimes wonder, if in this world of modern media, technology and competitive sports for children of all ages is there time or an effort to have children be told stories?  Are they encouraged to bond with elders anymore?  The richness of history can really be found much more in the spirit and stories of those that have lived it.  Young people need to find the time to spend with those that have those experiences while they are here. 

My neighbor in Kettering, Ohio baked apple pies and told me about her children, husband and her years as a school teacher.  I was in grade school but she wanted me to know what life held for me in my future.  She died while we still lived in that house but I knew what kind of woman she was and I admired her.  I aspired to have the kind of heart she had and have the depth of love she had for her kids and her husband.( She was also a great baker! )  

I write my blogs for many reasons.  One of the motivations though is as a legacy. I want the opportunity to leave stories about me behind. I remember so many older people that cared enough about me, as a child, to sit and tell me their thoughts.   They shared their lives with me and I feel I am a better person because of it, their selfless sharing, and their openness.   

We live in a different reality.  There is a fear in society about talking to strangers. In my neighborhood, most of the folks don’t even know each other’s names much less talk to each other.  It is hard to even talk to a child unless the parents are friends for safety reasons these days.   Hence, never would a child come knocking on a door just to talk.

Society also tends to be quite a bit more judgmental.  I think more people are afraid to express these feelings due to the tendency to be categorized as this or that.   I understand that concern, however, I suppose I am a risk taker of sorts.   These women taught me that life is about risk taking.   Leaving my stories and reflections behind is like the old lady who weaved on the loom and sat alone in the retirement home.  If she never talked to anyone, her stories would have died with her.   Silence is not always welcome.  Blessed are those that share and more blessed are those that listen.   Please know, as you read this, I am squeezing your cheek…ever so slightly…      Grandpa Tell Me Bout The Good Old Days by the Judds
                                       YouTube Video Link Above

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