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A title worth celebrating

September 11, 2014
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

Last Sunday, I had the joy of marking National Grandparents Day for the twenty-third time.

Some grandparents have a dozen or more grandchildren. We were blessed with two. Of course, I tend to think of this pair as among the world's best.

George and I were initiated into the Grandparents Club when grandson Ryan came on the scene in 1991.

It took a little getting-used-to, this position of family elders. But we quickly became old hands at the lap-sharing, story-telling, picture snapping job.

When Rachel joined the family tree in 1995, we were old hands at being Grandma and Grandpa. And we quickly learned that, in our case, grand parenting was a traveling act.

Daughter Becky and son-in-law, Randy Querreveld lived in Pittsburgh when Ryan arrived. So in those early years, George and I, along with son, "Uncle" Tim, made the trip down to visit as often as possible.

By the time tiny Rachel joined the picture, Randy's job had taken them to Houston. And, our family of three had also undergone a change. We had officially joined the snowbird migration to Florida.

We took a detour from our southward trip to stay with the "Qs" for a few days. We quickly caught up on bedtime reading, cookie baking and cuddling.

Our next visit with the grandkids was far more involved due to Randy's job. While Rachel was still a baby, the little family transferred to Perth, Australia, on the other side of the globe.

Thanks to determination and careful planning, Randy arranged for Grandpa George and Grandma Joyce to make the long journey to that distant, but lovely land. Uncle Tim stayed behind with our other daughter, Sherri. After all, somebody had to keep the country running while we were away.

During our time in Perth, seven-year-old Ryan was developing a delightful Australian accent and Rachel was a three-year-old cherub in constant motion.

From our Australian trip, we brought home piles of pictures and enough memories to last a lifetime.

The next relocation for the Q family was from far away Australia to nearby North East, Pa. The growing grandkids were at last within easy reach.

There were picnics, trips to the park, parties and frequent calls of "Hey, Grandma, look at this." And "Grandpa, can you fix this?"

Then, in 2001, Randy and Becky made a huge life change. He left his executive position and they bought sprawling Hidden Valley Campground near Jamestown. With almost 100 acres, the retreat seemed like a corner of paradise. For Ryan and Rachel, the collection of woodlands, open meadows, dancing creeks and a swimming pool was a kid-friendly heaven.

We spent as much time visiting there as we could. It was a beautiful and restful natural playground.

But, for Becky and Randy, this seasonal business was non-stop work. They put all their energy into the project. After ten dawn-to-dusk years, they decided it was time to move on.

The destination they chose for their next move had our full support. It was Sarasota, Florida.

Much has happened to their family as well as ours during the years they've lived "just up the road."

It's been so helpful and to have their supportive presence so close, especially during Grandpa George's final illness.

As for those once-small grandkids, Ryan is celebrating his 23rd birthday this month and is studying the exciting field of Digital Video Production.

Rachel, too, marks a special September birthday, her nineteenth. That once tiny child has become a beautiful and gifted woman. She is currently in her sophomore year at the University of Miami, nurturing the magnificent voice God gave her by studying Classical Voice.

And, though my times of lap sharing, story telling and cookie baking are long past, I make sure to keep in touch with these two amazing young people. At this point in life, I happily agree with the wise woman who said, "Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old."



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