Use Your Stuff Challenge #3: Monochrome with a Pop, plus a Sneak!
Use Your Stuff #4: Patterned Paper

The Grandma Party

June 2008.

I had to look it up to make sure, but I gave Haley the right answer when she asked me this week when the last Grandparents Party was that included all four grandparents. Kaleb's third birthday party. The following autumn, we moved Dad into the care center where he lived for nearly two years, and Nathan's party in November, when he turned nine, was the first one with just three grandparents.

I started the tradition of the Grandparents Party the year Haley turned four—the year she got her little mermaid two-wheeler. I put into place a family dinner on the Sunday before each child's birthday when I realized that I am awful at doing birthday parties. All the little kids! and the planning! and the endless shopping! and the feeling of mediocrity in my abilities! I decided that I'd only do friend parties once every other year, but the Grandparents Party would be a way to still celebrate birthdays.

Things didn't always go as I planned. Sometimes we went out to dinner instead of me cooking. One year we had to reschedule because of the stomach flu; one of Jake's was postponed because of a heavy snowstorm. I usually made too much food and took too long in making it—I never finished cooking when I thought I would. But the tradition remained: the birthday child always chose his or her favorite dinner and dessert, and I always insisted on a photo of the child with each of the grandparents.

(I am so grateful to have those photos! They were inspired by one of the very few pictures I have of myself with both of my grandparents, on my twelfth birthday.)


(Grandpa died the following December)


 November 21, 2010 was the first Grandparents Party with just grandmas, but the last one when the two grandpas were still alive. Even though Kent was at home being cared for by hospice workers, Beth came to Nathan's party; not twenty minutes after she got home, Kent passed away holding her hand.

Nathan's next Grandparents Party, in 2011, was the first one after my dad died. If you had told me then that his next birthday would find us down to just one grandma, I would have never, ever believed you.

I still don't believe it, really. When we go to Beth's house to check on things, it still smells like her and it still feels like she's just in her bedroom and will come out at any second.

But time moves forward. Boys turn 13. And last Sunday, we had Nathan's Grandparents Party. With just my mom. We followed all the same traditions of course: he chose the meal he wanted (roast beef, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots with brown sugar & butter, my mom's Jello with raspberries and pretzels, and fresh dinner rolls, with carrot cake for dessert) and we took the photo with grandma. I worried about not having dinner ready on time and we ate too much and sang happy birthday and opened presents.

Beth wasn't there.

My dad wasn't there.

Kendell's dad wasn't there.

And we all tried to be happy but we all felt those absences.

When Beth passed away, one of the things that Kendell inherited was her pink flowery dishes. So to make sure she was included even though she wasn't there and they didn't match the tablecloth, we ate dinner using her plates.

Beths pink dishes

Later, when Kendell and I were cleaning up, we discovered that each one of them had been numbered with a red label maker, one through twelve, with seven, nine, two, and four missing. I don't know what those numbers meant or why she numbered them. It was, for a brief moment, a sort of communique, a flash of thought passed on to us from beyond the grave, as if she still had something to say.

As if she knew we hadn't forgotten.




Thanks for sharing Amy ~ what a great tradition! And I bet the other grandparents were not to far away even though I know it doesn't feel that way! My Mom has those same dishes... I am guessing one day they will end up with me... seeing them stirred something within me.

You've created great memories for you kids and your parents!


I'm sorry, Amy : ( I don't have any grandparents left as of this year, and it is hard. Our girls are so lucky to have all four of theirs (I never had a full set in my lifetime) but we don't get to see them all together very often.

Those dishes are Franciscan Desert Rose, and my mom inherited a set of them when either her mom or aunt died, I can't remember who they passed from. I love them.


I recognize those dishes, as well. I believe they belonged to my paternal grandmother. I wonder who got them at her death? I got a set, but they were fairly plain.


Wow, the dishes are famous! My mom's first china was Franciscan Desert Rose with many other pieces. I like the Grandparent Party tradition.

The comments to this entry are closed.