We haven’t been out much lately. It’s been a bit too cold to be bundling up kids and toddlers to run in and out of stores or other places. But last week was warmer—high 20s, low 30s, a real heat wave in this part of the USA. Especially for January. So, one day, we ran to SuperTarget, which gives out free cookies, and to the library.

Normally, when I go to the library with my twins, I go just to pick up the books I have on hold. In and out. I wait to bring the older girls there, to spend time browsing, when we can leave the two two-year-olds at home. But on this particular trip, we lingered just a bit, because we ran into a friend from church and her three daughters.
God’s timing is always wonderful, I think. If I hadn’t gone out that day or I hadn’t run into my friend, I wouldn’t have been blessed with two wonderful encounters with grandpas. Both within five minutes of one another.
My own grandpa died when I was only three years old. I have one memory of him, and I cherish it, along with several photos. I never had the opportunity to meet my other grandpa. Since I didn’t have the opportunity to cultivate my own grandfather-granddaughter relationships, grandpas have always had a very special place in my heart. I am very fond of grandpas. Perhaps my notion of grandfathers is a bit idealistic, like a Hallmark movie. But maybe not, in light of my recent encounters with these two grandpas.
Encounter #1: For anyone who has several children, you’ve probably heard, and are tired of hearing, “Boy, do you have your hands full” spoken to you every time you go out in public. It’s like stating the obvious, but not in a positive way. I’ve also had worse said to me, like “You’re crazy” and “Why?” But every time the “hands full” statement is spoken to me by a complete stranger, I smile and try to respond in the most upbeat way possible. As far as the other two comments, I think I just smiled … speechlessly.
Well, as we were walking out of the library, this grandpa was walking right behind us, smiling, as he watched me and my kids. I looked back at him and returned the smile. And then he said one of the sweetest comments about my family: “What a great collection of little people you have there.” Wow! He completely won my heart! After I thanked him, he waited for me to pack everyone into my van and get them buckled in. Then, he asked if he could help me put my double stroller in the back of my van. I didn’t really need help, but he was just so kind that I said, “Sure.” I showed him that it folded up, and he was most impressed. He helped me lift it into the back. Then, I told him to have a good day, and we parted ways. He never stopped smiling.
Encounter #2: I still had one more child to buckle in and also had to pass books back to the kids to look at on our drive home, when another grandpa pulled up next to me. This time, as I was pulling out, he motioned for me to roll down my window. And he asked me for help. He was afraid he was going to fall, so he needed me to help him turn around and get to flat ground. You see, in the north where it snows a lot, the snow plows don’t always get all the snow and ice off the streets and parking lots. Solid chunks of slippery, salty masses are left. They melt and refreeze over and over again. This grandpa had parked right by a very uneven piece of ground. So, he was rather stuck. I asked him exactly what he needed me to do, and he simply said, “If I could just hold on to you until I can get to the sidewalk.” No problem. I was so honored to be available to him. I helped him turn around and walk away from the uneven terrain. As we were walking arm-in-arm, he held his cane and his library book to return in a Christmas gift bag in his other hand. And he told me that it gets hard when you get old. “And I’m only 94,” he said cheerfully. His brother is 96 and his sister is 89, in case you were wondering =) Once he got to the dry, flat sidewalk, he thanked me, we parted, and I told him to have a wonderful day.
As I drove away, I couldn’t help but think of my own grandpas. The one I barely knew and the one I never knew. And I thanked God for these little encounters that left me grateful on so many levels … and that naturally increased my fondness for grandpas.
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11 thoughts on “Grandpas

  1. This really touched my heart – and it was beautifukky written! Your joy is such a blessing to me and everytime I think about how hard it is to have these little gals so little and close together, I think of how great it must be to have any many as you and pary for God's will in our lives and we stay open to it.

    On a lighter note, this post made me smile because we too tend to stay in all winter – but maybe we should venture out more often, we just may see the face of Christ more. I know the face of Christ lives in grandpas!

  2. That is SO wonderful!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Both of my grandpa's are wonderful, one is still alive, and they are the cutest! I share your love of nice old men. How delightful.

  3. You inspired me to seek out some "grandpas" today. I visited an old neighbor who is 87 and was thrilled with the visit, and took the time to talk to an older man at the hair cut place while juggling 3 of the kids. Both very blessed encounters. Thanks!

  4. such a sweet post sarah.
    i especially loved what he said about your "collection" of little people.
    i always feel so terrible for lonely older folks.
    some of whom really seem to crave interaction with sweet little ones.
    when my kids were younger my dad used to call them the doll collection-mostly because of my girl. and the curly haired boy.
    strangely enough i was thinking a lot about my grandpa the other day. my mom and i exchanged a few words about him and my little one heard and said-"please don't talk about grandpa, it makes me sad." even though he died before max was born, somehow he felt a connection to him.
    and you have also reminded me of some friends we have, an older couple, who we have been meaning to visit since before Christmas, but haven't had the time to do.
    it needs to be a priority!
    thanks and have a blessed day!

  5. Simply touching. My eyes welled up with tears . . . I was lucky and so blessed to know my grandfather for years. He died Christmas day 2000 and I really miss him. He was 93 years young. I could talk anyone's ears off with the stories. I never knew my mum's dad, as he passed away three months before my parents married.

    Oh, how sweet the memories.

  6. What a lovely story! "hands full" yep-heard it all the time and had lots of comebacks. My favorite line to hear and give is "what a beautiful family you have!"

    How blessed you are to have had your life touched by two wonderful men, both giving and receiving, the best of all worlds!

  7. Sarah – your post reminded me of the few memories I have of Grandpa Selner, and the memories I have of my dad in his role as Grandpa. I'm sad my kids will never know either of them on Earth. The good news, which you clearly demonstrated, is that God give us other grandpas in our lives – not just the ones in our family tree.


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