The Gift Of Grandparents In Children’s Lives

I’ve mentioned before about what a blessing my grandmothers played in my life.

I mostly grew up without the benefit of a grandfather. My mothers dad died when she was 9 years old, which was a decade before I was born. My grandfather, my dad’s father – Theron died when I was barely 6. I had just stated first grade. I have memories of him, but not many true interactions. Yes, riding on a tractor with him as he plowed and falling asleep. I probably don’t actually remember that but I remember stories of it happening. I’ve had grandkids ride on the tractor with me. They usually go to sleep. The difference being the tractor. My tractors have always been equipped with cabs all glassed in with heat and air and protected mostly from dust. Even roomy enough that I didn’t have to hold them tightly as they slept. They couldn’t possibly fall off. But for my pawpaw it was different. Every thing was open, with a small seat, so holding a child firmly was crucial. It must have been tiring, but I’m told how he made round after round while I slept.

I don’t remember ever hearing a loud voice from him, either to me or anyone else. While I was 6 when he died, he was only 59. I have memories of him calling in the cows in the evening. Then of being beside him while he milked and fed. It was all done gently and with purpose. He didn’t rush anything, but he didn’t dawdle either. I’m sorry to say that is about the only memories I have of him.

His father lived with them and died only 2 years before. I was 4 years old. I remember very little about him, mostly pictures and stories. There wasn’t anything unfavorable to report about him. He seemed like a very genteel man.

I had a step grandfather for a little while. My dad’s mother, Ruby had remarried. They lived on Onion Creek, just on the southeast side of IH-35 out across the big field that they farmed. He was nothing spectacular and when Grannie Ruby gave him up in the late 50’s, I gladly did the same.

Now let’s talk about Grandmothers.

Nancy, my mothers mom lived with us much of the time when I was a kid. I have many fond memories of her. I can’t think of her without two distinct aromas coming to mind. The most prevalent is the smell of Noxema. She developed a very bad skin condition on her arms that caused her to bathe them regularly in Noxema to keep them moist and help with the itching. She never complained about that or anything else in her life. And trust me, if there was ever a lady that had a reason to complain…..
The second aroma was the yeast from baking bread. Often when I’d walk in to her house there was bread baking or fresh out of the oven. She made loaves of bread in 1 lb. coffee cans. It made wonderful little loaf’s. She had 52 grandkids I think it was when she passed on in 1972. She spread her love around to all.

Grandma Nancy’s mother was my Grandma Martin, Suzy Martin. She lived in Burnet. We visited her often. She was such a pleasant lady. She passed on when I was 13 years old.

Grannie Ruby was always in our life. She was the funny one. One of the last activities I remember was walking down our driveway where the soil had been loosened by the blade of a motor grader when I’d graded the road. We gave her a sack of wildflower seeds, heavy on bluebonnets, that she carefully sowed. She looked so at home doing that type of thing. Every spring since when the flowers bloom, they are a reminder of her. We also got to enjoy her mother, Momma May Linebarger for many years. The time spent with her was always rewarded with good conversation and a few chuckles. Grannie Ruby had 4 other grandchildren to share her affections with. She had plenty of love to spread around and she always showed her love to us.

Moving on to a third set of grandmothers brings on Leona Lewis and her mother, Grandma Purcell. For Leona or Nonie as she was widely known, I have written about her and the importance that she brought to my life. She only had Kenny and me, so her focus was always on us. We were her life.

More on Nonie:

So, as you see I had a great abundance of grandmothers in my life.

In 1977 Madeline’s paternal grandmother and her husband moved from California to Austin. Our second son, Michael had just arrived. They bought a house not far from us. The old woman, we called her Grandmother Lois was pretty sickly and died a year or 2 after they got here. Here husband, which she had married many years before was a small Italian, named Julius Sabia. He had no children, nor close family relationships, so he decided to stay on in Texas, We had become his family. He was the most charming, fastidious guy I’d ever meet. We all loved him from the time they arrived in Texas. Every single thing had a place. Nothing was ever out of place. Be came an almost ever present fixture in our lives. The boys as they were both Tokyo him immediately and him to them.

Pops was what we called him. He was a machinist by trade and went to work at a local machine shop. He was already in his 70’s, but the shop where he worked was an old business that had been there for years in east Austin. He became their go to guy. He got the hard jobs. He rebuilt all their machines. There was a young man working there that also, that introduced Pops to his mother. She was a nice lady and they dated and traveled together for the last 15 or 20 years of his life. We still stayed in contact after they met but she became his main focus, which was good for them both. They never married but were very close.

In its own way I looked at Pops as a grandfather figure and he certainly filled that role for our sons. He passed away, on the 20th of January will be 16 years. He was 97. He had continued to work into his late 80s. He was a wonderful guy. We all loved him dearly.

Oh and he is the one that machined the faces off the quarters for me in the “Double Tailed Quarter Story”.

The Double Tailed Quarter

JULIUS SABIA 1907 – 2005

Pops holding our Middle Son, Ron Jr.

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