Tag Archive for: grandparents

Visions of the Future

He says he fell in the deep end,
thank goodness, or he’d’ve
hit his head on the steps.

Y’all my 65-year-old fully dressed husband fell into our pool whilst washing down the deck. It reminded me of something I’ve seen recently that said “You can tell if you’re old by how people react when you fall. If they laugh first, you’re young. If they immediately run to you to ensure you’re okay, you’re old.”

Well, I did the second scenario with him. All he needed help with was the removal of his hearing aids. Which made me laugh and then our 17-year-old son and I fell into a huge fit of the giggles. My sweet husband may never live this down. It’s been three days and his shoes are still soaked because he won’t listen to me tell him to take out the soles and set the shoes and the inserts in the hot almost-summer sun we’ve been enjoying here on the outskirts of Charleston.

In April he turned 65, which makes this the once a decade nine months of teasing I get to subject him to because our ages are flipped. He’s 65 and I’m 56. I think it’s hilarious. He shakes his head at me a la Desi at Lucy.

Which got me to thinking about the romance that we write, the beginning, falling in love, and getting to know one another. The first time they fart is kinda cute, the “don’t go down the hall or near the guest bathroom anytime soon” is equally adorable but never written about.

When I was a child, our family would go on two-week trips with another couple and their niece and nephews. I usually shared the room with the couple and the niece. Once I caught the wife trimming her husband’s bushy eyebrows. I said, “Wait, is that a thing? Am I going to be doing that when I’m older?” She replied, “Only if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship this long.”

Mary Grace Coker Couch and 
Dud Spiegel (DS) Couch, Jr.

When I could drive myself to Easley, SC from either college in Columbia or home in Charleston, I’d visit with my grandparents once a month of my own volition. My grandfather would wait until I visited so I could cut his nails. He said when I trimmed them; they didn’t need filing. Whatever magic I did, left them perfect. He might have said this so I’d visit more often, but it worked.

My grandfather got very sick toward the end. My grandmother and I would sit at the kitchen counter playing solitaire and not speaking before nine in the morning (her rule). Papa would venture down the hall to the restroom from his bed. Nanny would eagle-eye and sonic-ear his every move. It made me sad but joyful that their intense love affair had lasted over sixty years. She was attuned to his every move.

As I’m writing my stories of the blossoming of love, I’m instilling in that depth of feeling the longevity and faithfulness of many years to come. The stinky bathrooms, the wiry eyebrows, the missteps into pools while fully dressed and while the spouse is on a conference call, the never getting the order right at the drive-thru, the refilling of the coffee cups without asking, the Batman signal of the empty tea pitcher on the counter, the kiss every time one of them departs or arrives, all melt into one beautiful love story that’s lurking in the unwritten epilogue.

When you read a story, do you ever picture the hero and heroine as a long-time couple with all their quirks and habits?

For example, imagine Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in their fifties. They’re 21 and 28 when she accepts his proposal. How will they change but still be in love thirty years later?

What would they be doing to get on one another’s nerves? What would they do to show their deep love? Would they finally be straight with one another and not hide behind their words? Will she still think he’s hot when his dad bod goes swimming in the pond?  Will she caution him not to be reckless on his horse? What’s his reaction when she’s gone on one of her extensive walks and hasn’t returned by tea-time?

Are they enjoying being home together all time, since Mr. Darcy lives off interest income? How do they spend this time? Do they have couple friends? Dinner parties? Travel? Is she exasperated with him now that she’s hit menopause? Is he worried about losing his hair?

My take? I think Fitzwilliam will take joy in his wife being her own person and speaking her mind, I can see him watching her with pride at dinner parties or when she’s taking the lead in community events. And Elizabeth/Lizzy will pamper on him and sit in his lap by the fireplace for years to come, much to their children’s and servants’ chagrin.

I might be embedding my relationship with my husband in their storyline though, what are your thoughts?


Robin Hillyer-Miles writes romance of the contemporary, magic-realism, and cozy mystery varieties. “West End Club” appears in the anthology “Love in the Lowcountry: A Winter Holiday Edition.” She’s writing “Cathy’s Corner” a 45,000-word contemporary romance set in the fictional town of Marion’s Corner, SC.

Robin lives near Charleston, SC where she works part-time for the YWCA Greater Charleston (she took this photo <<< on 12/11/2020 her first day on the job) and gives tours of downtown Charleston (when there’s not a shutdown because of a pandemic). Her yoga instructing has fallen by the wayside but she strives to continue her home practice (it’s fallen by the wayside too, honestly).

She and her husband of 24-years love working from home together. Their teenage son enjoys finishing his junior year of high school online. The dogs don’t know what’s going on but they are digging all the attention. Her husband insists she needs a pool wherever they live, and she’s been enjoying the heck out of it during this stay at home order.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobinHillyerMilesAuthorTourGuideYoga

The anthology is offered on Amazon in paperback or e-book here:

“Do you know what Dad did?”

We’ve talked about transitions this month. Transitions in our writing careers. Transitions in manuscripts. A different kind of transition has been keeping me up at night–transitions in families. Perhaps it isn’t surprising. After all, “family” is a central theme in my stories for a reason. 

These days, my sleepless nights begin with a call from my brother: “Do you know what Dad did this time?” 

Aging is weird enough in this country. Didn’t the Baby Boomers firmly establish that they would never get old? Oh wait, that’s a different story. This one is called, Your Parents Are Getting Old.

Now we’ve all heard about the hip grandpa who programs his TV and house security with his smartphone. Mine routinely calls AOL (from his landline since he forgets to charge his cell) and asks them for his password. One of my neighbors (my husband and I want to be Holly when we grow up) not only plays a great game of golf, he took up roping calves at age 80. At 82, he competes on the rodeo circuit. Instead of tying cattle with ropes, my dad is tethered to an oxygen generator. 

Life is a roll of the dice, right? Genetics, life style, accidents, wrong place/wrong time. No way to know what we’ll be like when we reach our 80s. So my approach to the single remaining member of my personal “great generation” is hugs and love you’s. 

Those two expressions make us feel valued. They nurture our souls, offering emotional and physical well being for both the giver and the recipient. Think about how often you shared them with your children, your friends and your spouse. Unfortunately (hmm, another transition?) the frequency seems to lessen with age. While you may be thinking about a jerk of an ex right now, I remember after my mother-in-law died, how my father-in-law craved touch. A simple pat on the arm, a hug. I see you. You aren’t alone. 

This weekend, instead of heading to New Orleans for Bouchercon, the mystery/suspense conference, I’m bound for my hometown. I’ll sit with my father for what I suspect may be the last time. To give him a hug and say not just “I love you,” but also, “Tell Mama I still love and miss her, when you see her in heaven.”


Cathy Perkins started writing when recurring characters and
dialogue populated her day job commuting daydreams. Fortunately, that first
novel lives under the bed, but she was hooked on the joy of creating stories.
When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond
height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South
Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs
and the resident deer herd.

Catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Reaching Way Back

Maggie’s post about her memories stirred up old ones of my own.

I only remember back to 5 years old with lots about kindergarten, giant blocks and playing store. I don’t remember learning anything. I had a wonderful friend named Sheila Ainsworth and sometimes I went there after school. I think the reason I was because my mom had a baby about that time and stayed in the hospital a long time–10 days, back then. My dad would pick me up after work. Of course the baby was my little sister and my days of being a spoiled only child were over.

Sheila had a two-story playhouse in her back yard that once belonged to Shirley Temple. I don’t remember much more about her or her mother, but I certainly remember that playhouse.

We lived in my grandmother’s house in South Pasadena. My grandparents had another house in Bakersfield and I remember going there on the train by myself to visit them. I had a note around my neck that said where I was to get off. The train was crowded, lots of service men. That was back when you boarded the train at the Los Angeles station and it went all the way to Bakersfield–through all the tunnels in Tehachapi. (Only freight trains do that now.) My grandpa worked for the railroad so I’m sure the conducter had his instructions.

My parents bought a house in Los Angeles, close to Glendale (and not far from So. Pasadena) and my grandparents moved back to the house we’d been in. I loved my grandmother. She always wore a dress and her long hair braided and pinned up. She belonged to Eastern Star and had many evening gowns. (Some she let me try on even though they were yards too long.) I know she belonged to bridge clubs and entertained them at her house too. My grandfather always wore suits. He did take his jacket off sometimes. He drove a Hudson–and my dad said he drove it like a train, never looking to one side or the other.

Several summers, my grandparents spent two weeks at the beach renting several rooms at a hotel. We mom and my sister and I stayed with them for a few days each year. They always had an umbrella in the sand and sat on a blanket. And yes, grandmother still wore a dress, and silk stockings and my grandfather his suit.  Of course we kids played in the sand and the ocean–and wore bathing suits.

My grandma always bought me two dresses for my birthday. My mom would say, “Marilyn, don’t beg your grandmother for anything. Only choose one dress.” It never worked out that way because when I tried on dresses, it was grandma that couldn’t choose. She always liked two and no matter how I protested, she’d buy them both. When she brought me home and I came in with two dresses, my mom would bawl me out no matter what Grandma or I would say.

Grandma never learned to drive, so when we went anywhere with her, grandpa was the driver. I remember her telling me to be sure and learn how to drive so I wouldn’t have to be dependent on anyone. Good advice.

My grandparents have been gone for a long time, but as time goes on and I’ve grown nearly as old as she was when she passed away, I look in the mirror and see the resemblance to my grandmother.

And by the way, I remember my great-grandmother too. I am fortunate because my sister and my cousin have no recollection of her. She passed away when I was twelve. She was a widow and ran a boarding house. She was tiny and looked a lot like my grandma except she had snow white hair.

Thank you, Maggie, for being the trigger that brought back all these memories.

Me at 5.


The Glory of Grandparents

“Guess what? We had Coke and biscuits for breakfast.”

Charlie, my firstborn, was eight. His birthday present from my mother was an airplane trip with her to Smithfield, North Carolina, the small town where her brother lived. The breakfast menu, as astonished Charlie reported to his younger, envious brothers, had been approved by the same woman who had insisted on at least two vegetables at every meal when I was growing up. Years later, Charlie still talks about the magic of that trip, how special and grown up he felt, and how much fun he had with his Grandma.

I thought about that journey last week when Barack Obama left the campaign trail to visit Toot, his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. He mentioned Mrs. Dunham several times during the campaign, but most poignantly during his nomination acceptance speech in August. “Thank you to my grandmother, who helped raise me and is sitting in Hawaii somewhere right now because she can’t travel, but who poured everything she had into me and who helped me become the man I am today. Tonight is for her.”

None of my grandparents were alive by the time I was born. Three of the four were immigrants and I always wished I’d had the opportunity to talk to them about their experiences coming to this country, leaving behind everything and everyone they had known. The heroism of their decisions is still staggering to me. As a creature of habit, I often have self-doubt that I would have had the courage to leave my parents and family at a young age, in full knowledge that I would never see them again. But of course, their bravery made my life possible.

Barack Obama credits his grandparents for raising him for much of his childhood. His experience is not unique. According to a joint study of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Defense Fund, and Generations United, “more than six million children – approximately 1 in 12 – are living in households headed by grandparents (4.5 million children) or other relatives (1.5 million children). In many of these homes, grandparents (approximately 2.4 million) and other relatives are taking on primary responsibility for the children’s needs.” It’s a growing problem.

Unconditional love and acceptance is the hallmark of parenting, but most especially of grandparenting. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who assume parenting responsibilities at a time when retirement looms. But to all grandparents, whose love and laughter enrich our children’s lives, we are eternally grateful.

The Hebrew expression, L’dor va Dor, means from one generation to the next. It refers to the generational continuity of traditions and knowledge, just like Madelyn Dunham passed on her values and work ethic to Barack Obama. This is what grandparents have to offer to our children. And for that, we say, Amen.

Please share a favorite story of your own grandparents.

Evelyn David