How do you love a child? How do you become the memory that makes someone smile forever?  Does your life exemplify your ethical beliefs and encourage children to follow you? 

There is no better honor than to answer the above questions with a “Yes.”   The greatest gift we have as adults is children.  It doesn’t matter if we are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or a child’s friend. To love a child and have the love returned is a blessing that is beyond all the riches in the world. Period.

John was three and watching his favorite grandmother make biscuits.  He watched as the flour hit the dough board and dusted the air.  She was talking to him the entire time and laughed as the white powder settled on his eyelashes.

John was having a lot of trouble with the name “Grandma.”  Since he was born with six grandmothers, he would get them confused easily.  Two great, great-grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, and two grandmothers all lived in the same town!  He was the first grandchild.  It was asking too much to remember them all. Out of all those grandmothers, he had only one living grandfather.

A solution

Suddenly, while standing beside his grandmother in her kitchen, he thought of a sound solution.

His coal brown eyes opened wide as he tugged his grandmother’s apron, “You gonna be Grandpa!”

 “John, I am Grandma, and he is your Granddaddy.”, she replied as she pointed to her husband.

“You Grandpa and he Granddaddy!” He emphatically stated again as he stomped away.

From that moment on, nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren would forever call her Grandpa.

The name would also be representative of unconditional love.  A love that allowed her to be called whatever these children wanted to call her. 

Many people have crossed my path in life, but without question, I have never known anyone quite like Nancy Melissa Pugh.   

Grandpa didn’t just say, “I love you,” she showed it in countless ways.

There was nothing she loved more than children.  And we all knew that to be a fact for those of us who were in her life.  When she played or talked with us, she became our age.

She even allowed us to play with the wrinkles on her hand and make fun of her false teeth until she purchased new ones.  This humorous woman laughed at herself and was never embarrassed by any of us.

Teaching valuable lessons

I can recall many of my cousins and me being in her small home at one time.  She would play games with us all day, fish with us, tell us stories, and stay up long past her bedtime.

As tired as she was and even before she went to her room to join my sleeping grandfather, she would sit at the end of the hall and read her Bible. That is how she made us understand the concept of priorities.

When she played games, she would never let any of us undeservedly win. By doing so, she taught us to have the grace to lose and understand fairness.

We all stayed with Grandpa many times in our lives.  And when visiting, she would ensure she had everyone’s favorite food in the house.  She would cook until her old apron was soiled and dark to show that we were each special in someone’s eyes.

Her garden bloomed in July with white gladiolas that reached up to the sun.  Grandpa loved white because they were pure and heavenly. We learned by watching her that beauty would grow out of dirt, toil, and care.

She was a gift

It is hard for me to write all that she was and did in her 97 years on earth.  I could fill a book with words and stories about this remarkable, kind human being.

Grandpa’s laughter continues to fill my heart today.  Her hands calm my soul while her spirit still wraps me in unconditional love and comfort.  

We bring children into our world, hoping they will be perfect and amazing.  Instead, we need to be as close as we can to being amazing and perfect for them.  To make a child feel loved unconditionally and know we would rather be with them than do anything else is honoring God’s precious gift. 

Years ago, I could not decide what to give Grandpa for Christmas.  She had a history of gifts going in her hope chest to save for a rainy day. 

I decided to write a column about her and send it to her county paper in Tennessee.  The newspaper printed the story using an entire page. The title in bold lettering was, “MERRY CHRISTMAS GRANDPA!”

The name my brother gave her all those years ago was now a bold headline, which was as it should be.

For a child to grow up making us a headline in their heart, a love that will never die long after we are gone, is the best blessing we will give them and ourselves.

“And her children will arise up and call her blessed,” were the words on a cross-stitched sampler hanging above Grandpa’s bed when she left this earth.  No truer words were ever written.