Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pearl Girls

This is a repost from Sept 21.

Today I'm reviewing a book about the things that make us become pearls. Something that initially may feel like just grit in our shells/lives ends up being a blessing. I wanted to share a couple of stories about my Grandma and Grandpa Trever.

Grandma and Grandpa were not the fun grandparents. Their house was not filled with toys and junk food. At their house, we played Tiddly-Winks and put together puzzles; quiet, sedate activities. Even the foods we ate there were simple: plain Pringles, 7-Up, and vanilla ice cream (Grandma was living dangerously when she bought French Vanilla). Needless to say, as a small child, I didn't appreciate them as much as I should have.

When I reached my teens, I went through a personal hell that made me reach out and try to get to know these people who only listened to the Christian radio station and watched Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy. I searched through their attic looking for pieces of their history that I could claim as my own, and I started spending more time with them, listening to their stories, watching their faces. It only took me fourteen years, but I finally woke up to these amazing human beings. Unfortunately, I only had my grandpa for another year. His death was one of the most traumatic events in my life, especially the auction that followed. The house was sold, along with most of the contents, as was their old car.

Fast forward two years. Grandma died nine days before Doogie was born, and I ached with guilt that I hadn't visited her in the nursing home as often as I should have, plus the guilt of being pregnant at just 17. My husband and I were struggling financially in the months after she was gone. He applied at every company in our area, and we even traveled to Milwaukee where he put in applications, but no one was hiring. In the midst of this, our car broke down, and we had no money for another one. At just the right time, my inheritance from Grandma's will ($500) came in, and we were able to buy a car. It was old and the size of a small yacht, but we were grateful to have it.

I didn't do a lot of driving at that point, so it was several months later when I was sitting down in the driver's seat that I noticed the dealer's maintenance sticker on the inside of the door: Ehlinger's Garage. Weird, I thought. That was the dealership in Suring, where my grandparents lived (we had bought the car in Cecil, about 20 miles away). Something made me get out and walk around the car where for the first time I truly noticed the WRVM bumper sticker on the rear bumper. Standing back and looking at the car, I realized that it looked familiar. I drove home with my hands shaking and called Dad, asking him to confirm my suspicions. I was right; I had purchased my grandparents' car with my inheritance from them.(If I remember rightly, Dad didn't mention it to me, because he knew how upset I would be.) What are the odds? But they weren't done taking care of me.

Fast forward another eight years. My marriage was at its end. Neither of us were happy, and we weren't just destroying each other, but our children as well. It had to end. I called my parents the night he left, and they came with comfort and support, but none of us knew how I would afford a divorce. I called around, and the cheapest lawyer I could find wanted a $1500 retainer. This was 1999. In 1989, when my grandpa died, his three children split up the various bonds he had purchased, including one they thought of as a "stinker." My dad, his brother, and sister didn't think that it would actually pay off, so they split it between them three ways so that none of them would take the entire loss. Ten years later and just a couple of weeks after my separation, the bond paid off early in the amount of $1500. Dad called me to say that Grandma and Grandpa Trever were paying for my divorce. Now I know that these godly people would never have wanted me to get a divorce, but at the same time, they loved me unconditionally and wanted me to be happy and to be able to take care of my children (none of whom they ever met).

I will never forget the squeak of the vinyl rocker Dad always sat in or the screech of the glider on the front porch that was only used in summer. I wish that I could taste Grandma's peanut squares or special Christmas punch, and I'll remember with pride how Grandpa said that I most certainly was a Trever because of my stubbornness . But I will hold tight to the fact that they loved me so much that they continued to take care of me, even after they were both gone.

I don't think of myself as a beautiful person very often, but when I do, I know that any beauty I have comes from the love of people like my grandparents who ensured that no matter how much grit I had to endure, I knew the love of God and family to get me through it.

Pearl Girls edited by Margaret McSweeney is an moving book filled with stories to encourage your heart. A pearl girl is any woman who has turned the grit of her life into something beautiful, and each one of the authors of the stories within this book is a true gem. The stories run the gamut from hilarious to heart-breaking to hopeful. It's not the kind of book you want to zip through in one reading, but to take time to savor each story and take in its full message. Stories of rape, abuse, and depression all offer hope to readers that there is beauty on the other side, beauty offered by God, friends, and family. Some stories will give readers perspective on their own lives, others offer comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone, but all will touch the heart. All proceeds will benefit a safe house in the Chicago suburbs and women and children with AIDS in Africa.

Remember I'm holding three contests this week. #1 is for the Pearl Girls tour. Leave a comment here saying you'd like to enter, and you're signed up to win a pearl necklace. #2 Read my post from Dec. 13 and leave a comment on that post responding to one of the questions I asked to be entered to win a copy of Lisa Harper's A Perfect Mess. #3 To win a copy of C.D. Baker's 40 Loaves, send me an email before 10 pm on Thursday, Dec. 17th. There are lots of chances to win before Christmas!


Anonymous said...

Every time I see or eat peanut squares I think of Grandma Trever. No ones have ever tasted as good.

Ann H. Gabhart said...

What a nice tribute to two people who surely loved you very much. The special, accepting love of grandparents is something we all should treasure if we were fortunate enough to receive such a blessing.