Grilled Grandma: Terri

How many children do you have? I have 2 sons; Abe, 37, lives in Boise, Idaho, and Glenn, 27, lives in Orlando, Florida. I would like to mention my future daughter-in-law, Amanda, as well. She already has my heart, and I’ve always wanted a daughter! She and Abe plan to marry in a couple years.

How many grandchildren? 3 grandsons, all from my oldest son, Abe.

What are their ages? Zachary, the oldest, is 14 and lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his Mom. Antonio just turned 9 and lives in Boise, part time with his Dad and part time with his Mom. The youngest is Parker, 5, who also lives in Boise with his Mom. Parker has Aspergers Syndrome, a very high-functioning form of autism. He is an amazing child, and his Mom is examining every avenue of treatment and education, in order to give Parker the most complete, happy and productive life possible.

Any great grandchildren? No.

What do your grandchildren call you? Grandma

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? Sadly, I haven’t seen Zachary since he was 8 years old. He and his mom are in Cleveland, Ohio, and communication between them and my son is almost non-existent. I truly hope that one day we can reconnect and I’ll be able to see him again. We communicate with each other through the mail, email or Facebook occasionally. He is doing very well in school, and has a creative and artistic flair, which I like to think came from me!

I haven’t seen Parker very often, either, regretfully, but do keep in touch with his Mom on Facebook. I love to read stories she writes about him and his adventures.

I am able to see Antonio, however, quite often. I visit him, or he visits me, several times a year. We are very close. Recently, he turned 9, and I gave him a copy of my favorite book when I was 9, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I told him the book is filled with adventure, and was written 50 years ago! Then I mentioned that I read it 47 years ago, over and over again, until my Mom made me return it to the library and check something else out. I included a hand-written, dated note on the inside cover, hoping that someday, he will read the note and appreciate its importance and meaning. He seemed very pleased to receive such a gift, and of course, that made me smile from ear to ear! I think he may have enjoyed the money I gave him a bit more, though, but that’s ok.

What is the best thing about being a grandma?
I see my son in each of my grandsons, and it takes me back to when he was their ages. I also love the hugs and the warmth I feel whenever one of them smiles. I love just being around all that energy! It truly keeps me young.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? For me the hardest part is not being around to watch the every day things. Yes, I do see Antonio often, and talk to him more, so that’s not so bad. Not seeing the other two very often is very hard.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud.
Early this year, I went to Boise to spend a few days with my son, his fiancé, and Antonio. We went to watch Antonio play soccer; in fact, it was the first game of the season. It was pure joy for me to sit and watch him and the other kids running around and trying to figure out what was going on. We were all laughing out loud at some of their antics.  It was just pure innocent fun. The coaches may have had another opinion of the whole thing, however, but we (the parents/grandparents/friends) loved every minute of it!

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? I live in Las Vegas, so when Antonio comes to visit, he likes to go see the lights on the strip. He also likes to go to the indoor amusement park at the Circus Circus Resort. We also go to the movies quite a bit.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house?
Every time I go to Boise, we do something different, and I enjoy it all. We always go out to eat several times, and usually go to the movies.  I’m just happy to be with them!

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits?
With Zachary, it’s mostly mail, email and Facebook. With Antonio, it’s talking on the phone and Facebook. As for Parker, I don’t really maintain the bond directly, but I do try to keep up with what’s going on with him, through his Mom. I am hoping this will change in the future.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren?
I would wish for them to always have a taste for learning and adventure, and keep a sense of family.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you?

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent?
I don't really have a good answer for this one, as I seemed to learn as I went along, and by the "seat of my pants". Probably, though, learning not to indulge them excessively was a lesson that came on fairly early. It didn't seem to affect my grandsons, but the parents weren't always thrilled about it!

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Enjoy every second of your time with your grandkids, as they are gifts. Remember, too, that you are a "gift" to them as well, giving them special memories that will last them a lifetime.

More wit and wisdom from Terri can be found on her blog, Terri’s Little Corner.