Grandma and Grandpa Butler
It's National Grandparents' Day! I thought it would be wonderful to commemorate the day with memories which honor Grandparents' influence and Ali Palmer has shared the following lovely story about her Grandmother and Grandfather Butler. Thanks, Ali. I hope my Little Guy remembers so much about us!
My father’s parents, Robert and Mary Butler met in Chicago whilst both studying medicine. My grandma an aspiring nurse and my grandpa an anesthesiologist. Mary had sworn she would not date or marry a doctor because of their busy schedules, but when Bob noticed her, he didn’t give up that easily. They were married on her birthday, which is also Valentine’s Day. My grandpa got a job at East Moreland hospital in Portland, Oregon, so they moved near Reed College and raised their four children lovingly and the biggest blueberry bushes you’ve ever seen!
Together they hosted many exchange students as Mary had spent time as a missionary in Japan as a child and Robert was plenty philanthropic himself! They had an immediate, unconditional love for others no matter their background. God’s love. They loved riding their bicycles for miles every morning together, which kept them in great shape. They had several grandchildren by the time Bob retired and they didn’t stop their lives of servitude there. They went off to impoverished places like Indonesia and Kenya with medical supplies they’d collected and healed more sick. They experienced many things no one else could imagine. For example, tasting durian fruit, contracting malaria six times (grandpa), delivering a baby to a sick 14-yr-old girl while bumping through the jungle in the back of a Jeep, a cow busting its head through the tent window and getting itself stuck mid-surgery, or the power to the generator going out mid-surgery. Just to name a few...
All the while they remained lights for Jesus and prayer warrior for their friends and family. My grandpa encouraged us to memorize certain passages in the Bible, such as Psalm 119 (for a cool $5!) Or be adventurous and jump into the frigid ocean at Rockaway Beach. In spite of all their compassion and generosity, I’ll never forget the time they marched some of my cousins and I into Bruce’s Candy Kitchen in Cannon Beach to see the taffy machine working and how the taffy was made. The machine didn’t happen to be running, so they shrugged and said, “Let’s go.” My cousins and I looked at each other, tears welling up, to see if they had really just taken us into a candy store and then NOT bought us any candy. Yup. That’s what happened. My youngest cousin, Mark, was sulking so much he walked into the rear view mirror of a parked truck, which did not ease his candy-less pain.
I also miss how my grandpa was always so worried we were going to drop our plate in our lap at the table he would keep pushing them further and further away until you could hardly reach them. It was a subtle game of push and pull with whomever was sitting nearest him!
I hope someday to continue my grandma’s tradition of letting the grand-kids who helped clear the table and dish up dessert be the one to take the first bite. Oooh the power that yielded.
My grandpa just passed away peacefully a few years ago surrounded by his loved ones (I cherish cuddling in his hospice bed with him as he was so near the end he could hardly speak, but he squeezed me repeatedly saying, “Yeah. Yeah.”) He was so loving! His top two “grandpa-isms” were “I’m not kiddin ya!” And “Doesn’t hurt anything.” He would add those two phrases to much of his speech. He was emphatic in his open warmth and love for all of us. He never stopped telling us how he was so proud of us and how we could do anything we put our minds to!
My grandma still lives in Canby and we see her at holidays and other visits in between. She hasn’t forgotten a birthday or anniversary yet. Her prayers are what is felt the strongest. I am genuinely nervous about when we won’t have those covering us any more. Can our loved ones pray for us once they go to heaven? I don’t know, but I do plan to take up the torch and pray vehemently and relentlessly for my kids and grand-kids just the way she does and they did. I’m fortunate to still have her. My middle daughter says she’s her favorite grandma. Every time she does some art she wants to send it to grandma Mary (her middle name is after her great grandma too)!