On Oct. 12, Columbus Day to be exact, my family lost our grandmother. About a year-and-a-half ago we lost my grandfather. It has been a long and difficult 15 months for my family.
My grandparents meant a great deal to my family and to me in particular. Growing up in a large extended family as an only child to a mother who was single for much of my childhood my grandparents played an important role in my life.
I grew up in the Linden area of Columbus just north of Downtown, about 10 minutes from the campus of The Ohio State University and just down the road from the Ohio State Fairgrounds. My family, my grandparents, two aunts and their families (including six cousins) all lived in the same neighborhood. At one point my grandparents downsized and moved down the street and my family moved into the house where my mother grew up.
Marlin and Judy Hardin were born in Oak Hill in Jackson County, Ohio just before WWII. Grandpa was captain of the football team and Grandma was the salutatorian and the homecoming queen. Rockwell himself could not have painted a more picturesque American couple.
Grandpa was a Columbus city police officer who retired after 37 years on the force. Grandma was a local real estate agent who was involved in many community activities and was named the Ohio Mother of the Year by American Mothers Inc. in 1996.
The Hardins had four children — Kathy, Kim (my mother), Karla and Jeff. They had 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. They loved their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as their own. There was nothing on this earth that my grandparents loved and cared for more than their family.
The memories of my grandparents have forever imprinted on my soul and I know I am partly the man I am today because of their love and guidance. They are not with us in person but they are around us every moment. As my three year old throws a fit in the living room right now I can hear my grandparents in my head, “It’s alright, she’s a little one. It’ll be OK.”
Grandpa was perpetually on time. He always said, “If you are on time, you are late.” He would pick me up from school often and could be seen sitting in the parking lot two hours before the last bell, sitting in his Buick, reading a book.
Grandma was the complete opposite — she was late to everything. Once when the three of us went on a vacation to St. Louis, Grandpa told Grandma we were leaving at 3 a.m. when he wanted to leave at 5 a.m. He knew we would leave on time then. And we did.
Grandma was the love and the compassion. She was there to comfort you and to praise you when you needed it. She was up in the morning cooking for 20 people who would be over that afternoon and the one that greeted each person at the door with the warmest smile you’ve ever seen. She also had a great sense of humor and knew how to make fun of herself.
Grandpa was the wise mind and the steady hand. He was quick with advice and we listened when spoke. He was the one we went to when we needed a strong person to help us with tough decisions and you knew what it meant when he said, “Let’s have a talk”. He also had a serious ornery streak and had a hearty laugh.
Before I had a real father in my life (thanks Dad!) it was just my mom and me. Mom sometimes had to work two jobs and couldn’t be everywhere with me or home every night. That is where my relationship with my grandparents became what it was.
When mom had to work late I would stay with my grandparents. Grandma would cook me dinner and get me ready for bed. Grandpa would “take me to bed” and then lay there with me watching Johnny Carson. I know why I love food and I love Carson.
As a youngster when I played baseball you would see my grandparents in the stands every game, or driving me to practice, or helping mom with the team snacks. They were in the audience for every school play or awards ceremony. The first newspaper article I wrote in middle school was framed and still on the wall nearly 20 years later.
My grandparents attended church every Sunday and planned Sunday dinner at their house. They organized family reunions. They found a way to be active in the lives of 10 grandchildren. They planned week-long vacations and camping trips. They were active members of their neighborhood association. They loved having yard sales where grandpa tried to sell everything and grandma brought the stuff back in the house.
It didn’t matter who you were — if you needed something they would help you. Grandma sold my wife and I are first home. Grandpa loaned me money when I needed it and made me pay it back with interest to teach me about lending.
Grandma and Grandpa Hardin were two of the most loving, caring, wise and God-loving people I have ever known. They raised an incredible family who will do their best to live lives that would make them proud. We are the people we are today because of them and we couldn’t be more honored to have had them in our lives.
I know I am going to miss them more than I can imagine. Even though my children knew them they will only have pictures to remember them, not the memories. But I can only pray that I am able to do for my children what my grandparents did for me.
The love of our grandparents is a special part of life. I will never forget the special part my grandparents played in my life. Thank you Granny and Gramps, I love you. I will miss you every day, but will do my best to repay you by honoring you with a life that would make you proud and to raise my family like only you could.
Jarrod Weiss lives in New Vienna and is a teacher in the Hillsboro City Schools district. He can be reached at email@example.com.