Grampa Elliott & Gramma Joyce

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My family moved from California when I was very young– so I didn’t grow up with Gramma and Grampa nearby. They visited every year though for weeks at a time, and through that I was able to grow close with them. They have things about them that us kids always talk about: Gramma’s chocolate chip cookies, the blankets she makes us, the smell of the blankets, Grandpa’s phrases, their recliners, the food trays, FOX news, Gramma’s magnets, water bottles in the car, never ending watermelon and strawberries, the kitchen bowls, Norman Rockwell figurines, pictures on their way….things that make seeing them, them. They would take each of us six kids out for breakfast one-on-one and ask about our life, give advice, and encourage us. Both of them have set such a strong example to us kids. They’ve been married for nearly 54 years, and are completely adorable. Grandpa still calls her “dear,” and sometimes I think she knows what he’ll say before he says it.

Reading in the Eagle River cabin
Reading in the Eagle River cabin

Grampa Elliott:
He is characterized as being wise, humble, funny, loyal, smart, and having a strong faith. Does it get better than that?! He loves FOX news, scotch, building things, reading the newspaper, valuing the importance of education, relaxing, eating Gramma’s food, and supporting us grand kids in all that we do. My heart gets all smiles when I think of him because he is so sweet to us Granddaughters, so tender. I look up to him for his wisdom, his angles on situations are unique, and I love listening to him. He isn’t intense with anything, and I appreciate that. I didn’t grow up with him or Gramma pressuring me to be more like one sibling or another yet instead being encouraged to embrace the skills and gifts I was given. However when I turned down FOX he let me know he would have liked his Granddaughter to have worked there 😉 Rightfully so though.

A few memories of Grampa:
I was 7 I think and we went out to breakfast. They let me get anything I wanted and I loved French toast then the same as I do now, so I ordered the French Toast Combo. He heard my order and said, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
When I was 8 they flew me out for a month. Grampa picked me up, with of course two water bottle sitting in the front seat, and on the way home he told me that I could have whatever I wanted for lunch, and then I would swim (they have the BEST underground swimming pool in their backyard) and afterwards I could watch all the TV I wanted. “So ya not a whole lot planned for today,” he said, and my eyes were so wide. Being the middle of six kids I didn’t necessarily call the shots on how the day would look. He saw my face and said, “well alright! Not a lot of planning we gotta do with you to make you happy huh!?” Nope.

Me and Grandpa, I don't quite get the concept of smiling for the camera yet
Me and Grampa, I don’t quite get the concept of smiling for the camera yet
Three generations about to go to dinner together
Three generations about to go to dinner together

Him and Gramma joined us for a few years in Eagle River and had their own cabin. One year Grandpa brought the family tree and talked through each person on that tree. That was a precious moment for everyone, listening to him. On that note I’ll bring up this: I am in a blood line where divorce is extremely rare. As he went through everyone up until now very few have gotten divorced and I am thankful for being in a blood line that values the covenant of marriage so strongly.

When I was younger during a visit to California I remember Grampa drove me to meet up with a family friend and we were early to the destination. We went to Coco’s (a diner) and he ordered an unsweetened iced tea. As a 9 year old I ordered the same thing, not knowing just how UNsweet it’d be. It was disgusting. I was used to my mom making sweet tea all my life. And here I was with my Grampatrying to be cool and drink what he had. Well, I drank only half because I could not do it. I don’t think he even noticed what was going on, but I remember the taste, but even more I remember feeling cool for ordering what my Grampa drank. On the note of drinking what Grampa drank this past visit out to California I drank his signature drink, and loved it. Every night before bed he has a scotch neat, and he was happy to hear I do too.
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Grandpa and Amy, 2008
Him and Amy, 2008

Along with my memories, I like seeing him with my other siblings. Seeing him watch my brother’s play sports, taking my brothers out for “man talks,” talking politics with my sister (not partaking, but seeing my sister soak in what he says), and seeing him talk with my parents.

During a dinner in Eagle River we celebrated my mom’s birthday. Grampa took a moment to honor her as his daughter-in-law, and praised her for homeschooling us six kids. I remember it because I could tell how deep he appreciated it, and how deep it set with my mom.

John and Grandpa talking
John listening

Hearing him tell me the story about how he and Gramma Joyce met.

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He is one of the best men I know, and I look up to him in several different areas. He is cherished, loved, and respected by all.

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Gramma Joyce

My name is Mary Joyce. Her name is Joyce. My name carries her name, and I wouldn’t have it another way. We are also a lot alike, which is great. We both are night owls, have a lot of energy, don’t like shopping, enjoy reading, alone time, projects, and sitting and enjoying the company of close friends and family.
Gramma has taught me so much over the years of growing up. For one, she has taught me that one has to learn how to say “no.”  It’s HARD, but when I need to say no I think of Gramma and how she values that. She has empathized the importance of relationships with family, telling me all through the years about how important it is to stay close to my siblings. Her faith is inspiring, and God sure does hear her prayers. She has the gift of healing, wisdom, intercession. She is servant hearted and is selfless. She is very honest, patient, and kind. Also is pretty much the best cook and defiantly has a “Gramma’s touch” to everything. Everything is better when Gramma makes it.
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Memories of Gramma.
Well first, her smell and hugs are very distinct and I feel “ahhhh” at home when she’s around, if that makes sense.
When I was 8 and visited for that month my mom was back home having brain surgery for a brain tumor. I was 8, so I didn’t know the details. But I do remember swimming one afternoon and Gramma explained to me that my mom got a hair-cut in the hospital and that she would look different when I got home. Looking back she was so sweet and explained everything in such a great way to an 8 year old granddaughter. That’d be hard.
When I was around 10 visiting I played so hard in the pool I got a headache and didn’t feel well. Either I had too much sun or drank the pool water. But I remember she gave me a foot massage, had me close my eyes and prayed for me.
The blue blankets she made for me, and my yellow one.

Amy and I sharing each other's blankets that Gramma made
Amy and I sharing each other’s blankets that Gramma made

Simply sitting and visiting. Hearing her stories about her growing up, her in college and becoming a nurse. Telling her my stories also. She not only listens but she gives great feedback. She doesn’t interrupt either, and I have come to appreciate that SO much. Someone who doesn’t interrupt.
Having her explain to me the importance of eternity and how life on earth is a spec compared to what eternity will be.
When I was 15 my mom hosted essentially a “Womanhood” party. All the important women in my life atteneded and encouraged me with words of love and advice. Gramma sat next to me and when she spoke to me it was so precious. Yes there were tears, and I remember feeling so loved.

The emails, the phone calls, and the letters from her. I am so thankful for having a Gramma who invests in her grandkids, who deeply cares for us. I know it has been hard living far away, it has on both sides, but I am so happy that even due to that we’ve made it work with keeping in contact. Through college I have been SO busy and she understands and waits for life to calm down before playing catch up. I like how catch up picks up where it left off. Her and Grandpa are always supportive, and I enjoy telling them what I’ve been up to.

Taken May 2013
Taken May 2013

Anytime I visit Gramma wants to have the food I like, and to cook me the food I like. She loves sitting and talking with me, and with activities she wants me doing only what I want to do, not what she wants me to do. It’s always relaxing going to Gramma and Grandpa’s. I love going to their house.

They’ve influenced my life heavily. They’ve shown me what a strong marriage looks like, how well they love as spouses, parents, and grandparents. I admire, appreciate, respect, deeply love and cherish both of them so much.

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