Time spent with grandparents is the stuff of both memories and character. The Changing Behavior Network host, Dr. James Sutton, shares one such experience.
For a number of years I was the only grandchild on my mother’s side of the family. For that reason, my grandmother and I shared a very special relationship. Hey, when you’re the only grandchild, you get lots of attention.
One of my favorite memories about my grandmother goes back to the time when I had spent most of the summer with her and my aunt’s family in Minnesota. I was about nine at the time. After summer vacation, Grandma and I made the return trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, by train. Those were the days when only the well-to-do could even think of traveling by air.
We were well-prepared. Dressed in our Sunday best, and armed with a couple of sacks of books, games, and plenty of snack food, Grandma and I boarded the train and settled into our seats for the two-day trip. I can still remember watching the scenery go by, occasionally drifting in and out of sleep to the steady rhythm of the clickity-clack of steel wheels on steel rails.
For those riding through the night in coach (instead of the much more expensive Pullman sleeper cars), the porter would make his way down the aisle renting pillows. We only needed one for me. Grandma, an experienced rail traveler, always carried a big, down pillow with her.
In the morning the train made a stop (in St. Louis, as I recall), so Grandma treated me to a hearty breakfast in the station’s cafeteria. When we re-boarded the train, we discovered that the porter had taken up all the pillows, including Grandma’s!
Grandma insisted that, since her pillow was so much better than the others (it really was), he would sort through the piles and piles of pillows until he found the fine pillow that belonged to her. He finally brought her a pillow, but it wasn’t THE pillow (something he heard about all the way to Tulsa).
Very few folks today can recall traveling by rail through the night. Thinking back, however, I suppose what stands out the most in that experience of traveling by train with my grandmother was that it was a special adventure of just the two of us.
Through the years, Grandma ad I did a lot of things together. She even taught me how to embroider a little and to bake sugar cookies. (We decided once to triple the recipe, and had more cookies than we could find jars, can, and boxes to put them it; but that’s another story.)
I was home on leave from the US Navy when my grandmother passed away in 1968. It was a few days before my scheduled departure for a two-year hitch in Japan (including two assignments with marines in Vietnam). She was very sick, but she knew I was there, that I was still home. To this day, I believe she picked her time to go.
I’ve heard of these things happening. ###