Maybe by now you are wondering why I haven't chosen my parents, as people who influenced me. I suppose they did, but my mom was a career person and my dad a trucker. Neither were home very much. So being an only child, I spent a majority of my youth at my grandparents house. In particular, these two. While the other grandparents had me all day on Sunday, these grandparents had me Monday through Friday every week. In the summer, I was there all day, as well. So you see, I wasn't at my childhood home very much.
When I was younger, Grandma worked. Sometimes full=time, sometimes part-time. My Grandpa had to quit work due to going blind in one eye, at an early age. This man was probably my primary caregiver on any given day. I didn't realize it while growing up, how much he really did take care of me. During the school year, he would take Grandma to work and I would be with them. We would drop her off and then he would take me to get donuts. Every day. He would then drop me off at school. He would then pick my up from school, we would go get Grandma from work and then go home. I would watch tv or play outside while dinner was being made. I always ate dinner with them. My mom picked me up at some point to go home. This was a typical day. Grandpa was always there to take me where I needed to go, although kids in those days didn't need to be driven all over the place. We just didn't do that much stuff like kids today.
My Grandma was a piece of work. Red-headed and stubborn as all get out! We fought like cats and dogs. She drove me nuts! But that woman loved me like no other. It was she that made sure I had some money each week to go to DQ. It was she that also had a change jar for me to go to McDonald's or Colonial Ice Cream for a sandwich (I usually used all my money at DQ). She stocked the freezer with these amazing little pizzas and also Spaghetti Os with meatballs. Sweet tea was always in the fridge. I played in their neighborhood until the streetlights came on. Since I don't recall Grandpa making me any lunch, I think I learned how to fend for myself at an early age.
During the summer, they would take me to their home they were building by hand in Northern Wisconsin. It was a magical place for a tomboy. Their house was on a lake with an inlet that contained frogs, turtles and fish. Hours were spent laying on my stomach floating in the flat bottomed boat collecting snails, bullheads and whatever I could. Fishing was another favorite activity as was swimming in the lake. The best times ever! Sometimes my cousins would come with and we had an amazing time. Times I will never forget.
They also took me all over the United States in a motor home. Yes, my Grandpa drove as long as he had a side kick helping him with traffic coming from the right. We would keep Grandma in the back of the RV because she wasn't very good at maps and I got tired of listening to those two argue about it. So I learned navigation skills at a young age. To this day, I can find my way no matter where I'm at. It's a gift. Between Grandpa and I, we got around the U.S. with little troubles and we saw some amazing sights. Because of this, I love to travel, but not necessarily by motor home. I'm over that. Besides, they make me car sick unless I'm sitting in the front.
They too, are gone now. Grandma passed only four years ago. There is so much I wish I could share with them now. Due to the difficult relationship Grandma and I had, I see now in hindsight, all that she and Grandpa did for me, in place of my mother. How she pushed me to be better in everything I put my hand to,whether is was the multiplication tables (I was a champion), earning all the Girl Scouts badges (ugh, don't get me started!) or even public speaking (enunciate and speak in a voice so the person in the back row can hear you), be respectful and help people in need. I want to also say how sorry I am for being so difficult and argumentative. They were always there for me. Always.
I try to tell those I see in a difficult relationship with a parent or relation that they won't always be there and to have no regrets. Apologize now. Today. Just do it. Never mind who may be right. It takes two to argue, so be done with it. Life is too short.