In Celebration of Grandparents
Grandparents are as different as snowflakes on a winters day.
Some are loving, touchy-feeling, involved in every aspect of their grandchildren’s lives, while others are standoffish, reserved, and hardly engaged. Some live nearby and see their grandchildren often, while others live far away and are only see them on special occasions for short periods of time. Some remember every one of their 16 grandchildren’s birthdays, and some only remember that Joe was born in XX month.
Grandparents can be as young as 30 or as old as 100. They can be active and go on exciting vacations and have tales to tell of their most current exploits, or they can be more sedentary and tell their memories of youth and vigor over and over. Some bake cookies, and lavish kisses and hugs on the little ones that visit them, others are less affectionate and expect the young’uns to be quite and sit still.
My Maternal Grandparents
I rarely saw my maternal grandparents, Vivian Gertrude Voorhees Hancock and Walter Wilson “Jack” Hancock. I have vague memories of my grandmother holding my younger brother, James, at what I believe was my uncle Jerry’s wedding in 1965. I would have been 6 years old at the time. I think we also stopped by “Nana’s” house once and saw them then. “Nana” was my maternal great grandmother and I remember playing in her garden behind her big house.
Other than those two times, I do not remember seeing my maternal grandparents. I heard about them once in a while during those rare times that Mom talked about her childhood. Jack Hancock was her step dad, who did adopt her and give her his name, but was not a very affectionate man from what I have been able to piece together. Perhaps some of that standoffish behavior was due to the era; my Mom was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and times were tough for most families.
The picture at left shows my sister, my mom, my grandmother and great-grandmother circa 1952. I looked through all my Hancock and Voorhees files and could not find a single picture of Jack. I think there are some photos of him in the big family photo albums at my dad’s house, but I’m really not sure.
My Fraternal Grandparents
I saw my fraternal grandparents regularly though my childhood. They moved from Pepperwood in northern California to Sunnyvale, CA, just 10 miles from my family home when I was 3 years old. I spent many weekends visiting and sleeping over at Gmoms and Poppas.
Gmom taught me all my hand crafts while I sat on the footstool in front of her. Quilting, cross stitch, tatting (yes, I can tat, both needle and shuttle versions), crochet, broomstick lace, candlewick, needlepoint, petite point, crewel work, rug making and bead work. She demanded two things – one that the back of your work look as good as the front and that you purposely make one mistake in everything you created, because only God was perfect. I remember many tears gliding down my face as she looked over my handiwork, clicked her tongue and started to take it out, because the back was messy., telling me to “do it again neatly this time.” She also taught me my love of growing things and the beauty of a garden full of flowers.
My Poppa taught me many card games, his favorite was Concentration. We played it often, me cross legged on the floor with my chin resting on my crossed arms on the coffee table, Poppa sitting on the edge of the couch, smiling as he matched pair after pair. He was really good at the game, but he often “messed up” and let his youngest granddaughter win. He was an amazing wood worker, and tried to teach me, but I was too giggly and animated he would get frustrated and send me away. Poppa had a glass eye and he liked to pretend it popped out when he sneezed. “Look, I sneezed so hard I lost my eye,” he would say holding up the glass eye, chuckling so hard his whole body would shake.
My fraternal grandparents did not show affection very often, as was the way of many people born in late nineteen and early twentieth centuries. A pat on the arm, a quick gentle hug, a rub on the head, were the physical expressions, yet I knew they loved me. Driving me home Poppa would drive blocks out of the way to drive us past Alice Street, just so I could see “my street.” Gmom praised my needlework as I grew older, a smile of pride on her face when I won ribbons at the State Fair.