Fond memories with my grandparents

Published 11:37 am Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Billy Holland

An older man was telling a story the other day about his grandparents, and it caused me to think back to when I was a kid and the relationship I had with my mamaw and papaw.

Now that I’m older, I realize that grandparents look forward to spoiling their grandchildren and are usually just as excited.

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When I was growing up, my dad and his dad worked together in their own construction business and every so often in the summer, my papaw would take me home with him. Sometimes, I would stay for a whole week, and those adventures were some of my most cherished childhood memories.

On the way to the country, it was not uncommon for me to become car sick because the roads were so curvy, but hanging my head out the window did bring some relief. When we arrived, I would feel weak and my grandmother would say I looked as white as a sheet, but with her administering every remedy she could think of, it didn’t take long for me to recover.

You see, I was the first child and the first grandchild, so, with being the center of attention, you could say I was a little spoiled.

They were always squeezing me and kissing me so much that I could hardly breathe, but it’s a good feeling to know you are loved.

To a boy of seven or eight years old, houses and yards seem huge, but have you noticed when you grow up how everything seems to shrink?

I drove by a few years ago and hardly recognized the place. It was so tiny, and even the land which seemed like a vast plantation to me back then was actually more like five acres.

As a kid, their house looked beautiful to me, but it was really just an old farmhouse that my papaw had tried to patch and piece together. The front yard seemed as big as a football field, and I remember one day my papaw wanted to see if he could beat me in a foot race from the driveway to the garden. I can still feel the hot summer air against my face while out of the corner of my eye, I could see his bare feet flying past me. I slowed down and started laughing as I knew he was not feeling well.

He had a debilitating kidney disease, and I discovered later that even though he did not say anything that day, the overexertion caused him a lot of pain and we never did that again.

He did it because he loved me and just wanted to play and have some fun with me.

In behind the house, the yard steeply dropped off into what many people call a holler, and if you were willing to climb down a steep cliff, you would find yourself on the bank of the Kentucky River.

Across the road were fields of tall grass as far as you could see sprinkled with patches of large trees, and if you were real quiet, sometimes you could hear them majestically sway in the wind along with the lonely sound of a cawing crow.

I remember one time, they drove their old station wagon in the creek and parked it right in the middle. We rolled up our pants and waded out into the cold water. They started washing the car while I was thrilled to explore and see what I could find.

My papaw would also take me fishing in his old wooden boat, and then after he cleaned our catch, my mamaw would fry them and make cornbread as they were so delicious.

At bedtime, I would sleep with them in a massive feather bed. It was such a feeling of security, like I was in an enchanted castle where everything felt magical and larger than life.

In the winter, I loved to throw paper wads in the fireplace and can still see the red-hot chunks of coal. I really miss them both, and know in my heart they truly loved me.

Every time my mind goes back to these special times, my eyes cannot hold back the tears.

Someone said, “Grandparents make the world a little softer … a little kinder … and a little warmer.”

They must have had grandparents like mine. 

Dr. Billy Holland lives in Central Kentucky where he is a Christian minister, author and community chaplain. Check out his website at