Watching the grandkids grow from afar

grandchildren, grandparents
The grandkids. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

By Bruce Stambaugh

We love our grandchildren. No headline news in that statement, I know.

But since the oldest of the three was born 11 years ago, Nana and Poppy have watched the trio, Evan, Davis and Maren, grow up from afar. All three of our grandchildren were born in Austin, Texas. Nana made sure she was on scene to help at each birth. Poppy arrived once the excitement had waned.

It wasn’t easy having your grandchildren 1,450 miles away. But we managed. We visited as often as we could.

We went for birthday parties at fire stations, helped carve pumpkins at Halloween, and any other time we could manage. The physical changes in the kids between visits were visible.

grandkids, grandchildren
The Texans. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015
When our daughter announced five years ago that they were moving to Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, we were elated. Now they were only 350 miles away. The overland trip still took six and a half hours.

We visit as often as we can, and we still marvel at how all three change, even if it has only been a few weeks since we last saw them. A recent visit drove home that stark reality for me.

Evan is now nearly as tall as Nana. As you might guess, he is as active as any 11-year-old can be. He is a sports fanatic, with baseball his first love. That should be no surprise. From little on up, Evan enjoyed anything that would roll, or he could throw.

Davis is a very inquisitive youngster. You can tell he’s left-handed. Now nine, Davis has a gift to explore and imagine. He’s as happy playing with a stick as he is with an electronic game. How can you not like a boy like that?

At five, Maren is our pink tomboy. She is a girly girl if there ever was one. She enjoys helping Nana bake cookies. She hustles at soccer and baseball, too, even if her long, golden locks occasionally block her vision.

I remember as a youngster how much I loved being around grandparents. Though he had little, Grandpa Merle often brought us candy. Our dentist loved him, too.

I can still hear the hint of that soft, lovely southern Virginia accent in my Grandma Frith’s voice. My lips still smack at the tart taste of her made from scratch lemon meringue pies.

memories with grandkids
Making memories. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Nana and I want to create those same memories with and for our grandkids, too. It’s just a bit harder with all those old age mountains between us. Still we do what we can.

I’ve always played a guessing game with all three of them. I hide an object in one of my fists, and the kids have to find which hand it’s in. During a recent visit, Maren guessed with such accuracy that I encouraged her to go buy a lottery ticket. Her response? “What’s that?”

It’s been a joy to see each gain confidence. Davis fearlessly dove off a swimming pool diving board. He asks more questions than even I have answers. To me, it seems just yesterday that he was poking holes in Texas fire ant hills.

As the oldest, Evan strives to ensure that he is not usurped of that position as if that were even possible. Still, he’s one smart kid when it comes to mathematics and board games.

It’s nice to see our grandkids progress from diapers to where they are today. I just wish those eight mountain passes weren’t in the way.

grandchildren on vacation
On vacation. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

11 thoughts on “Watching the grandkids grow from afar”

  1. That oldest guy looks like his Poppy, doesn’t he? What a precious gift you are giving your grandkids by investing in their lives. I only remember one grandparent, but had no personal relationship with her. I envied kids who had grandparents they knew.

    I totally agree with you about those blue mountains separating Virginia and Ohio. I love them surrounding my home in Virginia, but traveling across them is another story. I’ve tried numerous routes. The one utilizing the new Corridor H is my current favorite. Very easy and scenic.


      1. I went as far west as I could at the time which was close to Mt. Storm. It wasn’t as far west as I needed to go to get to central Ohio either, but that with the nice roads through the mountains in Maryland is a much easier crossing of the mountains than 33, the route I first took. And not as long and monotonous as 64.

        They recently opened another 4+ mile section of CH and another 10+ mile section is slated to open this fall. They’ve upped the date for total completion to 2020.


      1. I’ve only traveled it from VA to OH twice, but not the reverse yet. Sometimes google gives a Corridor H route, but not always. I guess because it’s still so new.

        These are the directions a friend wrote for me to come west. They might not make sense reversed. He travels regularly to Columbus from Broadway for his job and he can do that trip in 6 hours.

        From Harrisonburg take 42 south to 259.
        Left on 259 to Baker, WV.
        48/55 West (this becomes Corridor H) to end of highway.
        42 to Mt. Storm. (This was end of highway last July. Not sure where that would be now.)
        At Mt. Storm left on 50 West
        Right onto 560 to Mt. Lake Park
        Turn right at stop sign and cross railroad tracks and turn left on 135.
        Go into Oakland, MD and make right on 219 North. Go through Deep Creek Lake and make left onto 42 North toward Friendsville, MD.
        At Friendsville turn left onto I-68 west to Morgantown.

        You won’t like this route if you prefer interstates as the roads between I-68 and Corridor H do wind through the countryside, but it seemed to me that there are less mountains this way and they aren’t as steep.

        Friends in Baltic travel to VA regularly and like 64 because their children don’t get as carsick, but they have never taken Corridor H.


  2. Tell me about mountain passes in the way. But I always tell myself, I can’t blame my children for living away from Grandma and Grandpa, I always lived at least 625 miles away from mine.


  3. Wishes do come true! See ya soon! After awhile those mountains seem like mole hills!!


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