lingering at the table

11.6-1

I’ve always known the rare gift of growing up with all four of my grandparents. More than the gift of growing up with them, I was given the gift of really knowing them and learning from them. They’ve shaped my character, influenced my values and always gave me the treats my parents didn’t. My maternal grandparents (the ones you saw here helping me build the studio) are more active and vibrant than most 40 year olds I know. They live about a mile away. Last week when my paternal Grandpa C. passed away – I couldn’t get a hug from my other grandparents fast enough. In fact I went to two donut shops trying to chase them down at the crack of dawn. Grandkids just need their grandparents some times. They love well.

My paternal grandma died 5 years ago. I miss her like crazy. I miss the way she would point her skinny finger at me in a playful way. I miss making rolls with her for holiday meals. I miss how she always cheated at dominoes and would get fiesty with my dad when he joked with her. I miss our time together. I just miss her. She was a firecracker of a woman – fittingly, we named our oldest daughter after her. They would have been more than a handful together.

I want to write a million stories about my paternal grandpa. I want the world to know him as I did. My love for flea markets is probably from the fact I grew up visiting his booth at the Tulsa Flea Market and in Canton, Texas. As a little girl, I would walk up to my grandparent’s booth at the flea market and give Grandpa C. a kiss and a hug. He would make sure all his friends were watching and then would give me a dollar for the kiss and a dollar for the hug. Then I would go buy rocks for my rock collection. We did that every Saturday. He funded my extensive rock collection, $2.00 a time. He knows more about gardening than any human being on the planet – I am confident of this. He was brilliant on so many levels and had his own parking spot at his favorite gold and silver shop. Daily visits there for 30+ years made it his second home and his second family. He loved his family, his neighbors, but most of all he fiercely loved grandma.

As I sit here, the memories flood my mind.

I have lived a life so rich, so full, so blessed.

To know and love my grandparents – to have more memories with them than I could ever write – that is a gift you can’t describe.

Today was my Grandpa C.’s funeral. After the service, family and friends found their way to my home. We gathered around tables and just lingered a bit in the sweetness that is being together.  Before all this, I was reading one of the final chapters of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. In it she wrote, “When the table is full, heavy with platters, wine glasses scattered, napkins twisted and crumpled, forks askew, dessert plates scattered with crumbs and icing, candles burning low – it is in those moments that I feel a deep sense of God’s presence and happiness. I feel honored to create a place around my table, a place for laughing and crying, for being seen and heard, for telling stories and creating memories.”

When I first read that, I had only hosted ‘happy’ gatherings…baby showers, birthday parties, dinners with friends, coffee dates. When I read those words now, they mean something a little different. While I would much rather have all my grandparents gathered around my table with me – I feel a deep sense of honor and gratitude to be able to host in their honor. We sat around and talked about time passed and in doing so we began creating new memories. We watched the great grandkids being playful kids in the midst of a room of grieving adults. The next generation growing, playing, making new memories with their grandparents. Not only can I go to bed tonight in gratitude for the gift of grandparents who love me; I can go to bed in gratitude that my kids have the gift of grandparents that know and love them.

While my sister and I laughed and cried, our kids snuck far too many desserts into their little mouths. I’m pretty sure all the grandparents and great-grandparents really liked that….

11.6-2

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  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, I love you to pieces. I sincerely wish I was there to wash all the dishes secretly as you slept so that you could wake up to a clean surprise. It would be my very small attempt to thank you for the way you richly have blessed my life through your gratefulness.

  • Terri C - Beautiful! Grandparents are such a gift and blessing. I was also fortunate enough to have all mine and I agree, they form your interests values and have an incredible impact on a young girls life that lasts for our lifetime. May you feel HIS love and grace in this time of sorrow. God Bless

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - I love this post, friend. And I’m blessed to hear your testimony of the sweet legacy and inspiring care from your grandparents. I just returned from a fam celebration of my grandparents’ 95th, so I think I’m really tender about all this that you are going through. But for me, it is for the opposite reason…I’m pre-grieving the fact that I don’t have a relationship with them, have never felt close to them, and don’t know who they really are. So…I long to be that someday, for my kids and grandkids. I don’t know if you saw it on my IG, but yesterday, while still in CA, I recorded 40 minutes of them answering my questions. At the very least, I hope to have a memory of their voices, and to honor the fact that they are real people with real stories. Love you.

  • Jordann - “I miss the way she would point her skinny finger at me in a playful way.” I can’t tell you how much this line reminds me of my great grandmother that I miss so much. She used to point that finger at me and say “Now you be good… but not too good”.

    Thank you for sharing your heart tonight.

  • aubrey - Such beautiful words! I’m in the middle of reading the same book and can’t help but be flooded with the many memories around my grandparents table. Filled with food, but much more filled with hours of conversation and stories. My Papa was born in 1911, and I always had questions about the “good ol days” for him. I miss them so much.

  • Sarah - My heart aches for you. I know the loss of a beloved grandparent as well the blessing of a lifetime of memories. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Catherine - I love hearing you talk about your grandparents. I had the gift of growing up with both sets of grandparent’s until I was 21 when my beloved Pop died. I still have my beloved Nana left (I am 43 and she is 105) and my heart breaks a little bit every time I think about the fact I have chosen to live on the other side of the planet away from her. She is a strong, fierce and funny woman and I miss her so much. I feel just a little bit closer to her when I read your words so thank you.

  • kristen - Grandparents are such a blessing. I was particularly close to my maternal grandparents and even though they have been gone since 1997 and 2000 I still miss them every single day. I treasure all my memories. I too am so thankful that my kids have a close relationship with all their grandparents. I am sorry for your loss.

  • Jodie - Wow – what an amazingly touching post… Simply beautiful…

    I’m new here but will be coming back for many more visits, that’s for sure… 🙂

  • AndreaB - What beautiful words and treasured memories <3

  • lyn - Beautifully said. Thank you!

  • Izzy - What lovely words! I’ll be praying for you.

  • Tanya - Beautiful and thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing. Again, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Maureen - Beautiful. So sorry for your loss.

  • Mary - I knew all 4 of my grandparents, and I am more and more aware of that blessing everyday. What cherished memories you have (and I’m sure some really precious photos) of your grandparents. When one of my grandparents passed away many years ago, I had a dear friend tell me that our parents, our grandparents, aunts and uncles – are like ‘buffers that protect us from the world’ and as we get older we become shields (buffers) for our children and grandchildren. It is obvious from your posts that your family will be that support for each other during this time of loss. You and your family will be in my prayers …

  • Paige - What a beautiful tribute. So thankful we have kids in our lives to show us how to play in the midst of sorrow, how life can begin as life fails, how it’s ok to grieve and laugh, to smile through tears and drive by hug on the way to the next adventure. Hugs to all of you.

  • Erica Baker - Oh Ashley, my heart aches for you as I read this. We lost both of my husband’s grandmothers last year and reading this post brought all of the memories of funerals flooding back. In so many ways my heart feels raw from their loss. Going into the holidays this year I am already missing their warm homes, their laughs, and their sweet examples of following Jesus. Thank the Lord for the hope we have to see them again in heaven. Leaning on Christ and the hope of heaven are really the only way I have found to deal with the sting of grief. Praying for you and your sweet family.

  • danielle - Beautiful words. I treasure the time I spent with my Grandparents also. I drank in my Grandma’s stories that she thought were silly.

  • Emily - Beautifully said. Praying for you and your family, Ashley.

  • Paige - Ashley, I got this devotion in my inbox this morning and couldn’t help but think of you. I pray it comforts your heart this morning.

    http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/

  • Christy - So sorry for your loss. I too know the loss of my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandfather. In fact I had all four Great-Grandparents until I was a senior in high school. I was blessed to have my daughter know her great-great grandmother. Grandparents I think are who define us, sometimes help raise us. But your words and feelings are beautiful. Table time is so important in so many ways. I’m glad you found comfort in it during your time of grieving.

  • Anastasia - Beautiful post…….. Ashley, I am sure that both of your grandparents are very much proud of who you’d become…both of them were happy to have a gift of loving you, knowing you and contributing into the formation of the person who you are today! Unfortunately, sometimes in our life we are left with the bitterness of seeing our loved one’s go….memories are staying with us forever, and you are a very lucky woman to have so many good ones about the time that you’ve had with your grandparents. Cherish them, pass them along to your kids, and make new ones now with your little guys………. Your grandparents are in a better place – watching over you and your family ?

  • Dena - What a great post. I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my last grandparent when I was 17. I have some treasured memories, but not as many as I wish I had. and of course my kids never met them. You are blessed to have/had them so long and your kids are blessed to know them and have those memories. Treasure them… I know you will. God bless.

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - I love the quote you shared. My husband passed away a little over a year ago and one of the hardest things is dinner as a family, it isn’t the same, and so it’s difficult to plan for the 4 kids to gather because at the table their is such tremendous loss but that quote helps me to see things a little different. Thank you for that. Praying for your family.

  • amber - I need a tissue. It truly is an honor to walk through life with grandparents by your side. They are really the greatest cheerleaders. And they do love so good. Maybe your Grandpa & my Grandaddy have met. He was quite the gardner too. So sorry for your loss, but rejoicing with you the legacy he’s left behind & what he’s gained now in heaven. Thanks for sharing some of him with all of us.

  • Kaitlyn - I am so sorry about the loss of your Grandpa from your lives. Sometimes when I read your blog I feel like I am reading something straight out of my life. Grandmas pointing fingers and Grandpas gardening, growing only the best tomatoes in town and growing things only they would eat like kohlarabi and rutabaga. My heart hurts for you and your sister as no one can begin to understand the special bond that you had with your grandparents. Take care, journal properly and greive with happy memories!

  • Bek - Thank you for sharing this personal story. I too lost my paternal grandfather this year, and your feelings after the funeral are similar to what mine were before my grandpa’s service: it’s good to be together here, but we are missing someone. Praying for you and your family today especially!

  • Cathy - Ashley and family…prayers for you as you learn a new normal without your sweet grandfather. You were so blessed to have had him so long in your life, your memories of him will stay with you forever…thank you so much for sharing. I love hearing these sweet stories, I only had two grandparents when I was born and one of them had Alzheimers so she wasn’t really ‘there’ for most of my life…I have very few memories with my grandma but I cherish them. I wish I had had more time with her. Lots of love and hugs from Cincinnati!

  • Jessica - Beautiful, just beautiful! Our thoughts and prayers are still with your family. The framed picture is absolutely perfect.

  • Nicole C - I tried really hard to not cry at work while reading this. Your blog is the first thing I read when I get to work, it centers my day. You write so beautifully of your family. My heart breaks hearing about your grandfather but it’s happy that your heart has, and cherishes, the memories you have with him.

    I miss my grandma everyday and I’m so happy I have memories that a lot of my family does not.

    Many hugs passed to you and your family..

  • Trudy - So inspiring. What a gift to be wise in this way. Deepest sympathy on the loss of your beloved Grandpa.

  • Cynthia - Beautiful words. I’m in tears. They are definitely precious gifts and you are lucky to have had them. I wish you much comfort with those memories and may they lessen the loss as the days pass. ~HUGZ

  • maddy - My paternal grandfather passed away last November. I was the only grandchild and since my grandpa was retired when I was born he became my babysitter, just me and him everyday from 7am to 4pm. We went fishing, we worked on his koi pond, we went to breakfast with his friends. When I got older he would pick me up and take me to lunch in the middle of school day, so exciting for an elementary schooler. My grandpa was one of the kindness and most loving souls I’ve ever known, I miss him everyday and I am saddened that he didn’t get see my wedding this year and will never meet my children. Sounds like your grandfather was just as amazing, my prayers are with you.

  • Ryan - Sending buckets of love and support to you and your family, Ashley. Hugs.

  • shayna - so lovely. thank you for sharing and reminding us that it is okay to be sad, but it is important to be thankful.
    ~s.

  • Elissa Roberts - LOVE Bread & Wine!!

  • Katherine Goodwins - So sorry to hear your news. I miss my grandparents… I realise that there is so much I didn’t know… I have so many questions… I treasure the memories I have. x

  • Lisa - This is so beautiful, Ashley. I remember a longing when my grandpa died to adequately put into words the man that he was and the relationship we had. I spent more time journaling after his death than I have just about any other time. I hope blogging these words is healing for you…you have painted such a beautiful picture of your grandparents.

  • Frances Locke - I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother about a year ago, it was a difficult time. This was beautifully written.

  • Betsy - what a blessing to have such wonderful memories with both sets of grandparents ! Prayers for you and your wonderful family !!

  • Laura - My heart is with you during this time. God Bless You

  • angie - ashley… you share beautiful words here… my sweet grandma passed away in august… it still hurts but the wonderful memories are what pull me through… it sounds like you also have so many happy times to look back upon… ((hugs)) to you and your family during this time…

  • Sandy C - Beautiful tribute!

  • Shadi - Ashley, I’m really sorry for your loss. I grew up on the other side of the world in a completely different culture than yours but I can feel every word of what you expressed today in your post. I was blessed to be spoiled by my grandparents’ love too..not for too long, but have great memories with them. Unfortunately I lost my grandfathers too soon, I was a young child. I lost my grandmothers in my early 20s and I always felt a void in my life but 6 years ago I stopped feeling sad for myself when we lost our father at the age of 62 just when I was about to give birth to my first child…almost everyday I mourn the fact that my kids never enjoyed the love of their grandfather who was full of life and love. I talk to my sons about their grandfather and they ove him even without ever meeting him but I know for a fact that my older son who is 6 wished he had him here with him…nothing replaces the joy of getting spoiled by your grandparents…may your grandfather’s soul rest in peace! take care of yourself.

  • RachaelB - I’m so sorry for you loss. All of your grandparents sound like amazing people.

  • mandi@herbanhmestead - oh honey- you’ve got me crying over here. I am praying that your sweet spirit is ministered to tonight. I bet your granddaddy would love knowing that he is being remembered as loving his wife well- that is a beautiful legacy.

  • Julie - Such wonderful words of appreciation for family – Bless you and your family.

  • Michelle W - Ashley,
    Perfectly written my sweet friend. Your paternal grandparents are smiling down on all of you from Heaven. They continue to live daily through you all and the memories of them that you carry. God Bless you and yours. I miss you and think of you guys often.

  • Robyn - I’ve followed along your blog for several years now… In some strange way I feel like I know you and your family. I lost my Dad 3 years ago yesterday- and I never had the gift of really KNOWING my grandparents well. Your outlook and perspective is so uplifting and a breathe of fresh air. May you find comfort in your memories…. May I suggest you look up two things to help you and your children in your grief- “Pennies from Heaven” where when you find loose change it is your loved one sending it to you- we all find pennies at the most unique times. Its wonderful. And you should read, if you haven’t, the passage from Kahlil Gibran On Joy & Sorrow – I find it so beautiful and comforting to think of how the two intertwine
    http://www.katsandogz.com/onjoy.html

  • amy jupin - this is a beautiful post. i loved it.

  • tasha roe - you had me smiling and crying at the same time! thanks for sharing!!

  • Amy - My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Keep Grandpa alive in all the stories you share with your children.

  • Angela @ Cottage Magpie - I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad in August, so I just went through some of what your family is going through. It’s my first time having a close family member pass away and it’s by far the hardest thing I have ever done except for being one of his caregivers over the summer. As hard as it is, though, I feel deeply honored and blessed to have been included in his life and his passing. I can tell you that three months later, the ache is already less. I’m sure it will lessen more with time, though I am also sure it never goes away. Many hugs and prayers for you and your family.

    ~Angela~

  • Kate - Ashley – I love to read your blog and am always encouraged by the way you consistently pour yourself out for your family. I have lost all my grandparents and then my dad shortly before the birth of my first child. It has been extremely hard, but the one thing I can say I’ve learned in losing so many I loved is that it has made me so very thankful for and treasure the time and memories I had with them. And it has made me even more thankful for my own family and others who I dearly love and treasure who are still living. Death has a way of sharpening our priorities and making us see with new eyes what truly matters. I hope you are comforted by HIm who knows how great your loss is. I am praying for you and your family!

  • Kimberlee - I love that you were just reading Shauna’s book.
    So timely.
    Hugs to you.

  • Jenn - I’m so sorry for your loss, Ashley! I am in your Snapshops class right now, so thank you for keeping up with that during this hard time. I’m sure it’s not the first thing you want to be doing. I am fortunate to have 3 living grandparents as well. I love that my daughters know and love my grandma and have a strong relationship with her. We are moving from Minneapolis to Melbourne, Australia in a month and my grandparents are the one thing that I will have the most trouble leaving.

  • Haley - Thinking of you and your family during this time. This post spoke to me on so many levels having grown up with all four of my grandparents and I lost my first one three years ago. It is so great that you and your children had the opportunity to really get to know your grandpa. Thank you for sharing.

  • HELEN CHALLONER - Ashley, I have followed your website for about 18 months now, sure in the knowledge that whenever I read your blog I will be, at the least, thoughtful and at best, uplifted. Your writings are beautiful and so heart-felt. You have made me consider the way I parent, the way I view life and most of all, to be so thankful for my blessings. It seems to me that the bottom line is love, family and relationships – everything else is just ‘glitter!’ We lead very different lives on very different parts of the globe, but just wanted to say that your writing makes a difference to myself and my family and so many others. Stay strong, keep doing what you are doing. Love and Blessings, Helen, Liverpool, UK x x x

  • Kelly - I wonder if I ever went to his booth at Canton? The chances are pretty good I think! So fun to think about. Where would he normally set up? (only if you feel like responding!) Kelly