Sunday, July 10, 2011

GG & GQ: My Heroes

**DC Diva is undergoing a bit of construction. Good changes coming to this bloggy blog. Sorry if things are a bit skiddywampus in the meantime.

DSC_0078-1 My grandparents came to see us. It sounds so simple when you put it that way, but this 4 day, 3 night visit was so much more. My Grandma Jean is 81. My Grandpa Queed is 82. They have traveled the world. They have toured DC, but it was decades ago, when my dad was a senior in high school. This time they made a three-week cross-country road trip to visit family and friends and to track down their ancestors’ towns and landmarks. They started in St. Louis where they witnessed their youngest grandchild get baptized.  A week later they were visiting me, their oldest grandchild. Along the way they went on a bit of a wild goose chase, the kinds my grandpa is famous for, to find the seminary building of Jacob Weiler, my grandpa’s great grandpa. They carried his autobiography and pictures with them as they traveled. They know so much about him and they love learning more. My heart stirred as I made the connection: Jacob Weiler is my grandpa’s great grandpa. My grandpa is a proud great grandpa to these two. Circle of life.

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To say their visit was wonderful and meaningful and unforgettable just doesn’t do it justice. I’ve always adored these people who have played ever-present and unfailing roles in my life. I have many wonderful memories with them over the last 31 years. I started as their ONE grandchild. 31 years later, the group has grown a bit.

DSC_0310 Family reunion August 2009. If my calculations are correct we’ve gained 7 people since then. 3 (1 baby, 2 finances) are on the way.

When I’m with Grandma and Grandpa their attention is divided about 50 ways. There is NO ONE I know better at making you feel like you’re not getting 1/50 of her attention than Grandma. She acknowledges, she inquires, she gushes and she makes feel loved every one of us, one at a time, every time. The best part about Grandma is you know she means it too.

Last week the attention was divided like this.

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Just our little family. With them. I can’t express how speical that was. I wasn’t prepared for just how special it would be. I did not expect to be touched time and time again by the moments we shared. I did not expect to be so ready and eager to delve into their life stories and secrets. I was not prepared to have my love and admiration for them grow deeper and stronger. Yet it happened, in unexpected moments, now turned precious memories, like these:

Grandma

*Grandma calling Anderson a “fine boy.” Grandma sitting on the edge of our aerobed (where they accommodatingly slept without a single complaint) offering outstretched arms to Max saying, “Let’s get acquainted.”

DSC_0054-1*Pausing in the metro and really taking note of her beautiful blue eyes, then having the thought that my niece, Hannah Jean (named after Grandma), has the same eyes.

*Catching her settle down on my couch to thumb through my beloved art book. The one featuring Impressionism. The one I bought here in London when I was 21.  The one that always sits on my coffee table. The one I’ve never seen anyone pick up and read.

*Hearing she cried when Harley took them to see the DC temple. The last time they were here construction  on the temple was just beginning.

*Learning from her, as she impressively named and described every flower we saw.

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*Wandering the National Art Gallery with her as she told me of the art she’s seen and the places she’s seen it. Knowing, all the sudden, where I get my love of fine art. From her. Of course.

*Being surprised when she belly laughed as we showed her that video of Harley spinning Anderson until he crashes into the wall followed by Harley laughing like a maniac. (I’d link to it, but we took it down after getting hate mail.) I expected her to get upset. Instead I don’t think I’ve ever seen her laugh so hard.

*Going room by room, touring my entire house, with her ohhhhing and ahhhing every step of the way. She is the BEST gusher and with Grandma it’s 100% sincere.

*Sharing her secrets: she usually skips lunch, she not only removes sheets when a guest in someone’s home, but washes and replaces them, and her beautiful skin is thanks to genetics (here’s hoping!), soap and a simple moisturizer. And of course her lists. She keeps lists of birthdays she remembers, books she reads, meal plans she puts together (alone, for dozens of people), everything. Thanks for that list passion too, Grandma.

DSC_0076-1 Beautiful!

*Noticing she changed clothes, dressing up just a bit, before we went out to dinner. Diva.

*Telling me there is “very little I don’t like.” She was talking about food, but I think it’s true of everything on this earth. The woman appreciates and finds beauty in all things. Some of her favorites: corn on the cob, Sudoku, and Gilmore Girls.

*Speaking of one of my all time favorite shows, my kids call her GG, which was her idea, for Great Grandma. This visit, as we casually pushed Max along in the stroller, walking through my neighborhood, we decided it should also stand for Gilmore Girls.

*Confessing to me no one but my dad (her 1st) was a planned pregnancy. I love it when I reach that point when my older relatives become my peers. It’s like one minutes I’m being directed to the kids table at Thanksgiving, and the next we’re just girlfriends, talking about family planning. I recently arrived to that point with my aunt as well. Rite of passage people. Embrace it.

*Discovering she taught Max how to slide down the stairs. She will deny this, giving him all credit.  But she was there, first witness, alerting me, so she gets the points in my book.

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*Listening to her list her current callings (3), then talk about her tennis schedule (still plays weekly), her hair styling regimen, her regular travels to St. George to golf and relax, then on to her social calendar. And I know she’s squeezing in countless family ball games, concerts, birthday parties, graduations and more inbetween. What I don’t know is how.

*Hearing her say this trip was because I invited her. I don’t know if I entirely believe her, but I love that she tells me that.

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*That perfect moment, walking home side by side from the swimming pool, when she told me she thinks I’m “practically perfect in every way. Just like Mary Poppins.”

 

Grandpa:

DSC_0025-2*All the times he referenced Facebook. Truly impressive.

*The way he was just as happy to have a “day at sea” (the kind where you chill and stay close to home base) as he was to be out on a “death march” (the kind I take you on when you come visit me and see DC).

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My death march face. Actually it’s my “Hey stranger you’re pushing the wrong button” face caught mid-sentence.

*Hearing Anderson call him “GQ,” because he’s Grandpa Queed and because well, just look at him. Handsome.

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*Watching his face take on identical expressions to the ones I’ve seen on my dad’s face. Identical.

*His deep interest in maps. Always studying one. Highlighting, orienting, making notes of where he’s been and where he’s going.

*When he knew all about the two Utah men featured in the Capitol, long before the tour guide identified them. Utah boy. Born and raised.

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*Watching him teach Anderson how to pump. Crucial life skill. I will always remember where he learned it. I should add Grandma taught him to “let the cat die out,” which means to go limp, no pumping, and wait  until the swing slowly stops swinging. Who knew?

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*That moment in my kitchen when he exclaimed “You bet!” I don’t know what I had asked him but I do know that’s EXACTLY how my Dad says it.

*The way he carried around his own digital camera, snapping pictures and showing me all the places they’d been before they got to me.

*Watching his kindess to strangers. On the metro, at the Capitol, at the restaurant. He is gracious and warm.

*When he told me he wanted to take us to dinner and it “didn’t have to be Wendy’s fast food.”

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*The way he chuckled to himself  after telling me my 8-year-old cousin Emily calls him “Coconuthead.”

*This.

*The way he grabs my arm, jostles it a little and smiles after he teases me.

*Noticing everywhere we went he explores. The park, the museum, the woods behind our home. He has to case the joint.

*The day he and Max unintentionally matched.

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*Discussing that goal we share, to visit every state in the nation. He told me his story of finally making it to his last state, North Dakota, with no purpose other than he’d never been.

*The way he agreed with me when I remarked how beautiful Grandma is.

*His unexpected chillness when my poor time management caused us to miss a tour. “We’re just here to spend time with you and your kids,” he told me. He meant it.

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*Telling me they’re going to slow down and not travel as much. Minutes later plans of a Caribbean cruise and vacation in Hawaii were discussed.

*His insistence at taking turns when it came to pushing my 100 lb worth of kids, bags, ish and then some in a stroller all over the national mall. Together, we even lifted the load up and down stairs!

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Big kids.

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Heavy stroller.

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Pretty sure we wore him out.

*Hearing he and Grandma went to Great Falls after leaving my place. I was going to take them there, but we ran out of time. He believed me it was worth seeing, so he took a little detour on the way out of town, and went on his own.

 

We toured museums, monuments and the Capitol. We played in the park and in the pool. We grilled hamburgers on our deck and went out for Mexican food. We sat in my dark basement listening to Harley teach his  online BYU-Idaho class, something my Grandma insisted we do. Every night we stayed up until midnight, or later, eating ice cream and talking. That was the highlight fo me. We talked about the Church, their 3-year mission in Jamaica, their longtime buddy from high school Elder Ballard, their favorite and least favorite callings, and scouting. We talked about our family, their friends and my friends. We talked about teeth, skin, surgeries and scars. We talked about their world travels. They told me they don’t have much left on their Bucket List. What a wonderful thing to be able to say.

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Whenever my family talks about my grandparents my mom has the same thing to say regarding her in-laws, “Aren’t they amazing?”  They are. They are just amazing. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I want to be just like them when I grow up. Minus the golf. It’s just not my thing. They know it and they’re cool with it.  (I think.) It meant the world to me to have these two role models in my home, my city, my world for a few days. Their stories, experiences and most importantly examples shape me. You say it to me in every card you’ve ever sent me, Grandma and Grandpa, and now I’ll say it to you: I  love you SO much and I am SO proud of you.

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10 comments:

Ali Snow said...

What a wonderful post. Grandma and Grandpa are the coolest people I know and if I can be half as amazing as they are when I am their age I will be pretty happy. I feel so lucky to have them in our lives. What a wonderful vacation they had with you. I'm glad they were able to spend quality time with you and your family. Great job writing down all the tender moments and thanks for sharing.

PS - did that table on the porch come with the house or did you buy that?

Ali Snow said...

Oh - and nice new layout. LOVE the header.

RRW said...

Thank you so much for posting. I love these people so much and I'm so glad that Anderson and Max have been able to spend time with them.

This post really meant a lot to me. I'm so glad to be part of this family with such great grandparents at the head of it.

anna banana said...

Such a wonderful remembrance and experience to be able to have them there.

Ming said...

LOVE love love this post! What a beautifully written tribute to your grandparents that also captures such a wonderful moment in time. Your posts never cease to amaze me....kind of like you. With such wonderful grandparents no wonder you are so wonderful. Love you.

Mom said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, they are AMAZING. The apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree Wendy, you are also AMAZING.

Rachel said...

love.

Mike said...

Thanks for this beautiful tribute Wendy. I think you probably should speak at their funeral in 20 years. I feel pretty good being sandwiched in between you and GG & GQ. Must say, didn't know I was the only planned one. Now I am trying to figure out my kids. I think you were all very happy surprises.

Love Dad

Harley King said...

I'm still in awe GG and GQ sat and listened to me teach my class. I can't even get the paying students to do that. Of course, natural selection isn't exactly the material that is like a milkshake and brings all the boys to the yard.

My favorite memory of Queed: We were hiking the Virgin Narrows. There's no path, so hikers are forced to take the river. The river is filled with slippery, moss-covered rocks and unseen obstacles below the cold, coursing river. Everyone tears their ACL at least once. GQ just had a knee replacement and was missing from our group. Someone said, "Let's look for him farther upstream." We had already gingerly made it two miles. People in my hiking team were in shape and the journey took an hour. I said, "Nah, the guy just ordered a new knee, let's go back downstream. I'm sure he'll be on a bench in the shade."

I'm glad someone went farther upstream to find him, for farther upstream he was. He hiked more than all of us. And he did it on new knees.

Ryan and Cheryl Harris said...

Totally agree. I love these two beyond words and noticed a lot of the same things when they visited me the week before. Grandpa knew all about the flowers in Pittsburgh too and made me feel like the most special wonderful person in the world. Grandpa was kind and generous and my boys loved playing with him. I love when grandpa grips my arm and smiles and jokes with me. Makes me feel his love :)