A Christmas Wish for Grandpa: Regina Jennings

When I was growing up, Christmas always meant a trip to Grandma’s house in Missouri. We’d pull in late Christmas Eve, piled up like a litter of sleeping puppies. Drowsily, we’d drag our suitcases and presents into the house to be greeted by Grandma with warm hugs, cider, and whatever treats she’d been baking. Of course, Grandpa could take the credit for the roaring fire, but the tree, the decorations, and the presents were all Grandma’s doing.

Me and my younger sisters in our Christmas finery.

Me and my younger sisters in our Christmas finery.

But the first Christmas I can remember really appreciating all my Grandma did was the first Christmas she wasn’t there. Grandma died of cancer when she was fifty-nine. I was fourteen and couldn’t begin to comprehend how young fifty-nine really was, nor could I predict how much I would miss her.

I grew up the next Christmas. Grandpa couldn’t have us at his place—he could barely take care of himself—so he came to Oklahoma for Christmas. He appeared with the clothes on his back and seven identical brown paper sacks for his grandchildren, each holding a snow globe he’d purchased at the last truck stop before our exit.

For the first time, I cared more about the giver than the present. It really didn’t matter what was in the brown paper sack; I would make sure Grandpa knew that I loved him for trying, loved him even if he didn’t have the strength to try.

I remember his face as he sat amid the flurry of wrapping paper, his eyes blinded to the joy before him. They’d come into watery focus only when we hugged his neck, so we did it constantly. That year, instead of praying for everything on my Santa list, I only wanted that lost, bewildered look to be replaced with something more hopeful.

And it soon was. By the next year Grandpa had met Carol. A widow herself, Carol understood Grandpa’s loss and began taking care of him immediately. She was different from my grandma—younger, stylish, and a city lady. Carol had never had children, so Grandma’s afghans and cookie jars were quickly replaced by chintz sofas and silk flowers, but she made Grandpa happy. And I grew up a little more.

Grandma Carol has blessed our family more than we could’ve imagined. Since Carol came, Grandpa has never again felt alone. Even today, as he faces a decline that’s been heart-wrenching and frustrating for us all, Grandma Carol has remained with him, patient and caring.

Grandma Carol with Grandpa and some of their great-grandchildren. (My parents are in there as well.)

Grandma Carol with Grandpa and some of their great-grandchildren. (My parents are in there as well.)

God answered my Christmas prayer for Grandpa by bringing Grandma Carol. And Grandma Carol taught me gratitude, even for gifts that weren’t of my choosing.

Have you ever prayed for a Christmas gift–tangible or intangible–for someone else?

Connect with Regina on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Jennings, Regina

Most Recent Release: Love in the Balance

Love in the Balance

Molly Lovelace wants a better life than the handsome wrangler courting her can provide. When she chases after another love, will she discover happiness or regret?

30 thoughts on “A Christmas Wish for Grandpa: Regina Jennings

  1. The true meaning of Christmas – Family. Thanks for sharing your Christmas prayer with us, Regina. It can be hard to welcome a new family member, especially as a teenager, but speaking as one who lived through it myself after my dad passed away, I know the healing power love can be to one who’s left to pick up the pieces after an unexpected death. There should always be room in our hearts for one more. 🙂

  2. Beautifully written, Regina. You could have easily resented your new grandma, but instead you welcomed her because you knew she was what your grandpa needed. I’ll keep them both in my prayers and hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  3. I loved your story Regina, it is especially good for me because I am Grandma Paula and I try hard with my hubbys children and the grandchildren, no one knows what it is like unless they have been there. I am so happy that you appreciate Grandma Carol and that she is a lovable person.
    thanks for the story today
    Merry Christmas
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

    • Paula, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to fit into an extended family like that. I’m grateful for ladies of grace like you and Carol that bring more love to our families. Merry Christmas!

  4. This made me tear up! I knew at a young age what it was like to miss grandparents. I think that is why I’m so obsessed at knowing others’ relationships with theirs! And through many of Trina’s stories and the honor of meeting your grandparents, I can say you all are blessed! Love your writing, Gina!!

    • Grandparents are certainly special. And no matter how much I wish my kids could have grown up knowing my Grandma, I know they’ll meet her someday. And they wouldn’t trade their Grandma Carol for anyone. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  5. What a beautiful prayer. My Granny and Papa were so special to me. I was the first grandchild and a girl as my Granny had 4 boys so she lavished me with love and I soaked it up like a sponge. She taught me so many things and the Lord blessed her with 95 years. My Granny has been in heaven 6 years and my heart still misses her terribly. My grandparents had been married 70 years and my Papa was so lost and lonesome. After her death on many occasions I would stop to visit and I would hear him singing to Granny as if she was still there. He joined her in heaven 2 years later. I am so glad your Grandfather found another person to love him and his family. The Lord blesses us and sometimes we do not know it until later.

  6. A beautiful and touching story, Regina. It’s so wonderful that you and your family understood your Grandpa’s heart and made Carol a part of your family. I’m sure she feels very blessed to have found all of you as well!

  7. Hi Regina. You just made me cry. Loved your true family story. So happy your grandpa found someone else to love and be with him. I know from experience what it is like being alone. Almost 17 years now. My mother never married again after my dad died and I always thought how lonely she must have been. She had been with my dad since the age of 15, and they raised 8 children. She had been with him for 56 years. It really helps to have children and grandchildren, but there is still a loneliness for another in your heart. I am so happy that you all were happy with the new Grandma. So many times the kids resent them, no matter how hard the new person tries.. I am so happy for your grandpa and Carol. And, some people are really blessed to have their grandparents so long. I’ve heard of many in their 90s and several recently celebrating the 100s and one 102 Birthdays. I never knew one set of my grandparents, and didn’t have the other set nearly long enough. GOD bless you and your family. May you all have a wonderful Merry Christmas. It’s almost here. Your books look good.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  8. Well, I am a big o boy 6′ 300 and something ponder, nickname the hammer. I loved your story and yes it brought a tear to my eye.I lost my Grandmother when i was 17 from cancer. She never had much money for extras however, we got a toy car or a hand held radio every year. I would give up every thing I have received in last 27 yrs without her for a radio a loving smile on her face. Thank You. From. Marcus B Gentry in Del City, Oklahoma.

  9. Gina, I just found this and yes, I am crying. I remember it all. I remember you when you were the center of attention at our family gatherings. As the first grandchild of Lucille and Kenneth Austin you were adored. I remember you at Aunt Lucille’s funeral. We were all so sad. I remember my Uncle Kenneth in that year after her death. He was just as you described him. Carol too. Thanks Gina for reminding me. God cared for all of us then and he does now. Won’t it be fun to go to heaven some day. We can hug our loved ones, laugh and rejoice and go to see our Jesus!!! I think that Aunt Lucille and Aunt Katherine will be having a good time and my mom will be quieter but just so glad to be with them.

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