Growing up, I was privileged to have a close relationship with my great-grandparents, Robert and Helen Beery. I know one is not supposed to have favorites in the family, but I looked forward to seeing them more than almost anyone else. When we moved to Fort Wayne it meant living within 40 minutes of their house in Magley and, later, within the same distance of their apartment and nursing home.
I was always a little bit in awe of Grandpa Beery, but he never intimidated me. When we were little, Grandpa would take us kids outside and show us his garden. I don't remember him talking very much; my most vivid memories are of him sitting back in his chair, grinning and chuckling at my brothers' antics. That's a fairly standard response to my brothers, but there was something extra-special about Grandpa's grin.
I spent the most time with Grandma Beery. She was sweet and soft, but she also had a core of iron and spunky, sparkling blue eyes. She loved playing with the grandkids. We would paint pictures together or color or go outside and look at the flowers. When I began taking piano lessons, she always wanted "a concert", which would often end in the two of us playing duets. At the assisted living center, she would open the apartment door when I played so that her neighbors could enjoy the music too. When they finally had to leave the apartment for the nursing home, she gave me her beautiful piano. I still think of her every time I play.
Anyway, this was all brought up because my mother and I were looking at old photos of Grandma and Grandpa. And they made me cry. Turns out I still miss them...a lot.