Celebrating Grandparents

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Springfield, Minn. home of about 2,500 residents back when I was growing up. Among those counted in the 1970 census were my mom and dad, my three sisters, my brother, assorted cousins ...

And, my grandparents George and Ottilia Sward.

When we think about grandparents today, we talk about the "generations," about how we need to teach our children to respect their elders.

I knew of no other way to live.

My grandparents lived about 10 blocks away, just far enough that I could get up a good sweat as I pedalled my little orange bike with its silver-metallic banana seat across town.

Spending time with my grandparents wasn't a chore, it wasn't some obligation to be dreaded like getting your teeth cleaned.

It was a learning experience each and every time I walked through their front door.

My grandma taught me how to play Solitaire, Crazy 8s, and Kings in the Corner. She taught me that two slices of bread with butter and sugar constitutes a sandwich. She taught me that love was unconditional, even when I broke stuff.

Grandpa, a successful businessman, taught me ethics. He taught me that the customers were always right, even when they weren't. He taught me how to drive a car while dang near leaning over into the passenger seat. And, he taught me that one should never go to bed before having a dish of ice cream.

Both of my grandparents died before I could tell them how important they were to me, what an impact they both had on my life. But remembering the lessons they taught, I carry them with me every day of my life.

This Sunday, when the country celebrates Grandparents Day, I think I'll remember mine with a game of Solitaire and a sugar sandwich.

Jerry Thebado, editor

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