My childhood heroes were my paternal grandparents, Noble and Estelle Holmes.
Noble was born in 1911. He was forced to quit school in the third grade to help support the family. Can you imagine an 8 year old working in a saw mill? I can’t fathom it, but that’s exactly what he had to do as the oldest of what would eventually be 8 children. After various industrial jobs, he injured his back 1973 and was eliminated from the workforce. He passed away at the age of 91 from complication of pneumonia in 2003, a few days before his 92nd birthday.
Estelle was born in 1919. Finishing high school, her work life would be spent working in yarn mills that were, at one time, so prevalent in our hometown. In October of 1998, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. I watched one of my heroes suffer with grace and dignity, not once complaining, not once showing the pain. She passed away in April the following year at the age of 79.
The both were my shelter, my “rocks”, and my escape from a home filled with violence and constant turmoil.
My love of cooking came from spending time with my grandmother on Sunday mornings before church, preparing the family meal. I’m sure I was quite the annoyance, trying to help, but in the end, creating more work for her. She was patient with me. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself with much a much deeper well of patience and I believe that time spent with her is the source.
I inherited my grandfather’s sense of humor. He was always looking for a way to aggravate (in a good way) my grandmother and, as those of you who know me personally; I find myself doing that to my wife. He also taught me how to fish, garden, train a dog, and the importance of waking up early.
If they could see me now, they’d tell me they were proud of me. Knowing the conditions they grew up in almost makes me feel guilty for living a (slightly) above-middle-class lifestyle. But they would be proud knowing they had a huge influence on me, preventing me from letting the circumstances in my home not become an excuse for drugs, alcohol, and/or criminal behavior.
One other thing they’d tell me would be to slow down. My life goes 150 MPH some days with work, coaching soccer, grass cutting, clothes folding, cooking, cleaning, reading, writing, running, gardening, the list goes on. Their meaning would be “edit your life.” Spend more time with your family in the moment, and less time worrying about tomorrow. Do what your heart tells you to do, not what your calendar does. Love more. Laugh more. Dream more.
They’d tell me that time is short and in a blink of an eye we find ourselves pushing up daises.
Eliminate the noise. Focus on what matters.