Love Your Grandma!
Love Your Grandma!
by Jeff Barthel
Most people have heard the encouraging expression “count your blessings.” Well, for me, my number one blessing is my Grandma Barthel. With all due respect to my other grandmother,Grandma Ceil, Cecilia Jeannette Barthel, is a blessing who’s been of great inspiration to me in innumerable measures.
My college years have extended far beyond the timely ideal and financially appealing four-year-graduation plan. What began in 1998 at Bethel College in St. Paul will soon come to an end here at the U. And, while I cherish the many opportunities, experiences and memories these years have afforded me, I’ve definitely had several rough times as well. Throughout these times—both good and bad—there’s been one constant source of emotional support besides my mom—and that’s Grandma Barthel.
With her simplistic appreciation for life and her family, Grandma B has always been a beacon of hope and joy. Whether by offering up a home-cooked meal, shining me a smile, or by embracing me with her more-than-generous hugs or sincere praise—this gracious women has shared with me her gifts of humility and tender care in lightening up the dreariest of my days.
What’s more amazing is, this is how she is with everyone—quiet, gentle and unassuming, merely grateful for each and every day of life. No, she does not understand email, cell phones or other new technologies; she simply loves to love—whether she’s caring for me, my grandfather, her eight children or pretty much whomever else she knows. And it’s for these lessons in compassion and humility that I’ll forever be grateful to her for.
Never, not once, will you hear a complaint from Ceil. No hate or harm could you ever see through her thoughts or actions, nor any disparaging remarks or anger will you detect in voice.
Cooking, cleaning and maintaining a household—things many of us take for granted—are all things she does well. At 89 years of age, my Grandma’s done these things for the good part of a century. She made lunches for all eight of her children everyday throughout the pre-microwave eras of the 1950s and ‘60s. While grandpa worked hard to provide the financial means necessary for their 10-person household, grandma would quietly clean her husband and childrens' dirty clothes and cook the family hearty dinners.
Grandpa, who turned 90 Saturday March 11th, is an honorable man in his own right, but behind every good man is a wonderful wife. In recent weeks, while grandpa has suffered arthritis over nearly all of his aching body, grandma has been doing all in her power to take care of him.
Sadly, grandma and grandpa may soon have to separate. Something I’ve never had to conceive of until literally days ago. Grandma Ceil is not of tremendous health and even her amazing emotional strength cannot overcome the mental and physical assistance needed for grandpa any longer.
It saddens me to even write about this, they both mean so much to me. Which is why, as both Grandma Ceil and Grandpa Norbert make visits with their primary care doctor and look at nursing homes near their home in St. Michael, I’ll have to cease from writing more of these saddening events and return to the crux of this column.
Call your grandma. Listen to your grandma. Care for your grandma. Yes, grandparents are old. Yes, grandparents are often times forgetful. And yes, my grandma and several others out there will soon be dying — although we dread that day.
So, in this time of, as my grandma often says, “everyone’s go, go, go all the time,” please take some time to slow your life down.
Everyone needs to work. Everyone needs money. Everyone needs time for friends, time to study, time to sleep. But don’t forget about some time for family. Although it’s difficult for many us to be in constant contact with our parents, we still try to make that phone call, write that letter or, if we live close enough, meet up with them for dinner from time to time.
So as long as Grandma Ceil is around, I shall continue to talk to her, ask about her, listen to her stories, visit her when I’m able to and seek her advice — especially about girls. She’s so great with that.