They answer to Nana and Grammy; Pop-Pop and Grandpa. Sometimes they’re called Oma or Babcia; Abuelo or Pawpaw. In the end, though, grandparents are pretty much all the same: Reliable sources of hugs and cookies. Endlessly patient listeners, story-tellers and game-players. Or, as one unknown pundit put it, “People reaping the reward they’ve earned for not strangling their own teenagers.”
Sept. 13 is National Grandparents Day, a holiday rooted in the efforts of West Virginia housewife Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, whose campaign to honor grandparents was adopted by area civic, religious and political leaders and led to the first Grandparents Day in West Virginia in 1973. Congress passed legislation that made the first Sunday after Labor Day National Grandparents Day in 1978, but lots of local grannies and granddads believe the kids in their families make every day a standout.
Take Norristown’s Pam Culp.
“To me, it’s Grandparents Day every time I’m with Mickey,” she says.
The latter is a 19-month-old charmer with a smile that “lights up the room” and a vocabulary that revolves around impressions of farm animals and the words “no,” “ma” and “dad.”
“When Mickey walks into our house, he just makes my heart feel so happy,” Culp says. “He loves to color, so he asks to do that as soon as he arrives. I feel so blessed to be able to spend quality time with him. Reading books to him and watching his favorite Sesame Street characters together is just pure joy. I love that I can give him the patience he needs, which I may have not given to my own children. There’s nothing more special than seeing your child with her child.”
Sandi Fryer, executive director of Conshohocken-based Colonial Neighborhood Council, couldn’t agree more.
“What can I say about my grandchildren,” Mom-Mom Fryer muses. “They’re just wonderful…whether they’re helping out down here (at CNC) or playing Wiffle ball with Poppy in the backyard. They’re awesome kids. That pretty much says it all.”
The kids in question – Jacob, 10, and Chelsea, 6, Snyder – “like everything …about spending time with Mom-Mom and Poppy.”
“Cooking with Mom-Mom, playing games like Chicken Coop and going shopping,” Chelsea adds.
“Sleepovers, going to work with Mom-Mom and going on Meals on Wheels routes, playing basketball and baseball with Poppy,” Jacob says.
Norristown attorney Joe Hylan is known for his meticulous appellate court briefs and polished creative narratives. However, ask this proud Pop-Pop about two-year-old grandson Teddy, and his words run to poetry.
“When I walk into the house, and Teddy says, ‘Hi Pop-Pop,’ my heart starts to melt,” Hylan glows. “Of course, other grandfathers say this, but Teddy is a sharp, fearless little guy, and he runs like the wind. I tell people some of my best friends are grandchildren. In fact, all of my best friends are grandchildren.
“When you do a lot of work in Juvenile Court, you come across a lot of fathers and grandfathers who care more about their cars and golf games than their children. That’s a real shame. Grandchildren are a blessing.”
Pat Tatam’s five grandchildren range in age from four to 19, and this Plymouth Meeting Mom-Mom loves “every single thing about being a grandparent.”
“Grandchildren are an extension of your own kids, and they’re special because when you go through different trials and problems with your own kids, you don’t always know what you’re doing. It’s all so new. But you don’t have that with grandchildren. They mean everything to me.”
Back atcha, say granddaughter Natalie Tatam.
“My grandparents mean the world to me,” the local 13-year-old says. “I know they will always be there for me. I’m lucky to have them in my life.”
Julie Giles cuts right to the chase when explaining why she loves Grandmom Kathy and Grandpop George Maier.
“Grandmom lets me do whatever I want,” the Royersford seven-year-old says. “When I go to their house, we play volleyball with a balloon, and we play cards and Guess Who. I like to practice knitting and make cookies with Grandmom. She lets me put all the sprinkles on. I like to eat the brownies she makes, and she makes good noodles and meatballs. I love Grandmom and Grandpop because they’re nice, and they’re funny.”
Giles’ cousins – Glenside sisters Kate, 7, and Norah, 4, Lamond – appreciate their collective grandparents’ generosity with chocolate and cookies and enjoy sleepovers and special outings. But, they qualify about both the Maiers and paternal grandparents Anita and Lee Lamond of North Wales: “They’re special because they’re all very nice.”
Carol and Jim Volz say the joy of grandparenting hasn’t diminished now that their four grandchildren are teens.
“Watching them grow from the time they were babies…watching them play sports and learn how to drive…it’s all been wonderful,” this Plymouth Meeting Nana reflects. “I love everything about having grandchildren and being a grandparent. What can I say…it’s all been great.”