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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The gift of grandmas

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I don't really know a lot about my family roots.

I've never met my biological father, which is fine because my dad adopted me and I never had a gaping hole in my life where a father should have been. My mother's father died when she was 8 years old. My mother had two brothers ... one of them had one son, my cousin Dave, and the other one never had children.

My maternal grandmother died two weeks before my ninth birthday, so although I do have some memories of her, they're very fuzzy. I never really got to know her.

I had a great childhood, and I loved my family. I just never had the multi-generational influence.

Enter my husband's family.

When my husband and I first got together, he still had three of his grandparents -- both of his grandmothers and his paternal grandfather.

I marveled at how lucky he was.

We lost Grandpa Barrand in August of 2008, but Grandma Barrand (that's her on the left in the picture), who turned 85 on Friday, and Grandma Kline (she's on the right), who turned 87 in August, are both still with us.

Both grandmas have come to be my grandmas. I call them both Grandma. They send me birthday cards for "My Granddaughter."

They are two vastly different women who are beautiful in so many ways.

Grandma Barrand (her first name is Geraldine; everyone calls her Gerry) has an unwavering sense of loyalty to and pride in her family. She loves us all like crazy, and she makes no bones about it.

She still tells stories about how my father-in-law was such an adorable baby that people would stop her in the store to tell her so.

My husband was due in October, but was born in August. She loves to recount the tale of him, as tiny as he was (they had to feed him with an eyedropper, you know), he would somehow inch from one end of his incubator to the other.

When my daughter Dani and I came into the Barrand family, Dani was 8. Grandma and Grandpa swooped Dani up immediately, taking her out to eat, to the mall and to her softball games. As she grew up, Grandma has been to Dani's plays, pageants and her graduation.

When I gave birth to her great-grandson, I thought Grandma Barrand would burst. She was so incredibly happy that she and Grandpa had lived to see the fourth generation of their family come into the world.

Because of Grandma Barrand, I feel like my children and I are part of a grand tradition ... and that really means something to a kid who didn't have that.

Grandma Kline (her name is Laura Kathleen, but she's always gone by Katie) has always lived life on her terms. She likes what she likes and does what she wants to do.

Her first husband, my husband's grandfather, died in 1980. Grandma Kline remarried, and she and her second husband traveled extensively. They had a grand time.

They even owned their own plane.

To this day, Grandma Kline still has a young spirit. She wears brightly colored clothes, dangly earrings and big rings. She gets pedicures and has her toenails painted.

She goes out to eat a lot, and shows male restaurant employees she considers good potential mates for them pictures of her two granddaughters, Janell and Julie, and of Dani.

A lot of people say they have no regrets, but I don't know that I believe them.

Grandma Kline says it, and I totally buy it. She's done and seen more than most people ever will.

Grandma Kline makes me understand how important it is to go out, do things and make memories.

Of all the things he's given me ... and the list is long ... one of the things I'm most thankful to my husband for is sharing his grandmothers with me.

They are both true inspirations, and my life is better for having the privilege of knowing them.

Jamie Barrand is the editor of the Banner Graphic. Her e-mail is jbarrand@bannergraphic.com.