Just before I got into my car to come home from college, I got a call from my Grandma Donna. “I made dinner and your cousins Amanda and Mitch are here, so you’ll stop by around 12:30, we’ll eat, and you’ll tell us all about your adventures,” she said! Somehow, she knew the day I was coming home, exactly what time I’d be going through her town, and that the promise of food would definitely get me to stop in. After two hours of driving, I pulled into the driveway of my grandparents’ house in Springfield, Minnesota, where I was greeted by hugs and smiles.
Soon after I got in the house, we sat down for what felt like Christmas dinner, as my grandma had made enough food to feed at least three families! We talked about how college was going, what my cousins had been up to lately, and what trips Grandma and Grandpa were planning next. Finally, we settled on my favorite subject, stories from my Grandpa.
Almost every time I stopped at my grandparents' house, my Grandpa went into storytelling mode, grabbed some photo albums from the basement, and began telling us all about his adventures. It didn’t matter if they were stories from his time in the military, out in Washington or Korea, his time working for Delta flying across the country, or about my grandparents’ marriage; we were always excited to hear about the lessons he learned on his travels. This time, the story was one I had not heard before.
When my uncle was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, my grandparents didn’t have much money or stable jobs. Through a series of events, they ended up living in the home of a veterinarian, who was a complete stranger when they first met him. He agreed to let them stay in one room of their family’s house if my grandparents would help out around the house and community. My grandma babysat the veterinarian’s kids along with my uncle, cleaned the house and helped out at the local church, and my grandpa picked up odd jobs around the community and in Las Vegas and learned a little bit about what it takes to be a veterinarian. Long story short, they ended up staying there for two years, keeping an alligator, and becoming great friends with a veterinarian and his family.
My grandpa says this was where he learned what hospitality looked like. When my grandpa, grandma, and newborn uncle had nowhere to go, this man and his family took them in, helped them get on their feet, and ended up becoming great friends in the process.
As we sat around the dinner table looking at black and white photos of my grandpa, his alligator, and his ’61 Ford, I could see the light in his eyes as he relived those moments. Through telling those stories to us, my grandparents taught us invaluable lessons from the past we can use today. While this story was new just a few days ago, I've already been able to show hospitality to guests for the holidays. As we enjoy the holidays with our loved ones, let’s ask for those stories, look back with the storytellers, and learn.
Stationed by the Plow,