I know this is supposed to be a writing blog, but without my grandparents, Gigi and Gipop, I’m not sure if I would be a writer. When I was in 4th grade, Gigi sent me “Tuck Everlasting.” I remember trying to read the book and hating it. She usually was so spot on in the books she sent. Every year, she would send a book and while I think a lot of children would have hated that, I absolutely loved it. Reading was my life. It took me about three more years, but when I finally read “Tuck Everlasting” it became one of my favorites.
I read it with the kids a few years ago, and as suspected it was too old for them. They need the life experiences of crushes and they need to rid themselves of the girls are icky stage before they can understand that book. My grandparents persisted in sending us books, even into our twenties. I have a fine collection of leather bound classics thanks to them. I give them credit, and my parents for being an avid reader, which led to me wanting to write.
I usually spent a week or two during the summer at their house in Florida. They always had a dog, which I loved because we never had one growing up. My favorite dog was Zelda the dachshund. Guess who she was named for? They also had a white dog at one point, and he was so cute but so very hyper. I think at some point they had to give him away because he started biting. At their house, they never turned the TV on. At night, after Gigi killed me at a game of Scrabble, they would watch what I called “the boring news” aka “The McNeill Lehrer” hour, so I had a lot of time to read, use my imagination, and explore on my own. They also took me to the Junior Museum in Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs, antique shopping, to the mall, and maybe most importantly, Gipop let me out a gallon of whatever flavored ice cream I wanted.
I have tons of memories of them, but unfortunately few photographs. Most of those are at my parents’ house. Gipop passed away a few years after I graduated from high school. By that time, they were living in Tennessee, and I drove home for his Memorial Service. Gigi carried on. She lived to be ninety-five. She read every single day of her life. A lover of words. I still think about both of them every day.
I love this photo, because it looks like Caden (my son) has a huge arm. That’s actually his cousin’s arm in the background! This is Gigi at her 95th birthday party.