I am fortunate enough to have known all four of my Grandparents as an adult. My Grandpa Armstrong, my paternal grandpa, died first of cancer. I was just out of high school and still self-centered enough that it made me very sad, but not as sad as it makes me now, knowing how truly fabulous he was and how fun it would have been to see him playing with my daughter or drinking with my husband.

(I realize how that makes me or my husband or even Grandpa seem rather alcoholic, but a lot of the world’s greatest problems have already been solved out on Gilkey Road by Randy and my dad over many a gin and tonic and fine cigar…)

Grandpa Pancake went next. After what seems like an eternity that those pig valves in that farmer’s heart served him, we lost him nine years ago this summer. The memories I have of him could fill several volumes if I ever wrote it all down. He was quiet almost to a fault – only spoke when he actually had something to say. I cannot believe we are even cut from the same cloth.

Last week I lost his wife, and the things I can remember about her, well…they aren’t all sunshine and roses. I learned a lot over the past week being home for her illness and eventual death. I went home to see her one more time before she died. She hardly knew I was there. She would have been 90 in October. As I said at her funeral for those of you who are wondering that don;t already know, yes, I had a set of grandparents named Charles and Virgina Pancake. My mother’s maiden name. Although I don;t recall dozens of the perfect breakfast treat, I am sure she made her fair share because, as my sister pointed out, there was always a steady supply of real Vermont maple syrup made by my uncle’s family. That marketing opportunity must surely haunt him somehow, being my mother’s brother, Lynn Pancake. Real. Vermont. Pancake. Syrup.

At any rate, the overwhelming feeling that I got at the funeral was that I hardly knew her. I mean, I grew up going to their farm for a week at a time and they only lived about an hour away. She taught me the wonders of no bake cookies and eating ice cream with a silver spoon. They always had real hamburgers (nothing stretched with breadcrumbs or what have you), and she made real deep fried french fries from scratch. But the things people had to say about her at her funeral, these were not the things I remembered about her. One woman stood up and talked about how wonderful she had been to her when she herself was a young mother struggling to make ends meet. she taught her how to sew. I knew Grandma sewed; she made a lot of her own clothes; but this image of her with (gasp!) patience for teaching someone to sew! Although, she was a teacher by trade. She went to college at a time when it was still rather novel for women and I even heard a story about her traveling cross country by car with another girl her age! Imagine that!

G & G

Here they are. I have no idea where this was taken but the year marked on the page is 1950. They met when they were 5 and the story goes my Grandpa, upon meeting her at that tender age, declared she would one day be his wife. The attendants of the funeral all agreed that you could scarcely speak of one without mentioning the other. I hope that they are enjoying the opportunity to catch up with one another.

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