with Gloria Gaither
How many grandkids do you have?
GG: Seven—five boys and two girls. Will is starting college at George Washington University, Jesse will be a junior in high school this fall, Lee is 16 and a junior in high school this fall, Madeleine is 13, Simon is 9, Liam will be four in October and Mia will be two in September. They are pure delight!
What do you enjoy doing with your grandchildren?
GG: Great discussions are a big part of our life with the three big boys. They are interested in great literature, music, politics and global issues, so they are really fun at this stage. Lee is our athlete. He loves anything physical like basketball in the driveway, swimming, etc. Jesse and Madeleine are fine writers and send poetry, chapters of books they are writing, essays, etc. We discuss them when we are together and online when we are not. Simon wrote a “screen play” a few weeks ago, which all the kids videoed while we were all on vacation last week. They all played parts and even cast a few chosen adults in small parts! Then we had a viewing night so we could all enjoy the finished product. Will, Jesse, Lee, Benjy and Barry all have their guitars and basses wherever we go, so they love to “jam.” The girls all join in with the singing. Bill loves that!
Liam and Mia love “hanging out” here, doing puzzles, catching fireflies, swimming, feeding the swans and playing on the swings and slides that are on their third batch of little kids (including these kids’ parents). We have lived in the same house for 45 years.
As a grandmother, what brings you the most joy?
GG: Watching discovery! I love the wonder of discovery, whether it be a tadpole losing its legs, the birth of kittens on the porch swing at our cabin in the woods, the writings of C.S. Lewis, the joy of winning a relay in the track meet, or the beauty of harmony and chords, the experiencing of the spirit of God for themselves in many situations, the thrill of creating something you know is really good!
What are some of the challenges of being a grandmother?
GG: Maybe the greatest challenge is to know when it is time to give advice and direction and when to wait for them to figure something out for themselves. When they are little the line is drawn at when they could hurt themselves or hurt others. When they are bigger, it is still the same only the definition of “hurt” gets broader and deeper. No matter what, we want them to know that we are their best allies in discovering what is wonderful about life!
What is one of your favorite childhood memories with your grandparents?
GG: My grandparents on my dad’s side lived on a small Michigan farm with a magic woods and great places to explore. My grandmother was legally blind, but was an amazing cook, gathered eggs with me and helped me explore the woods where we picked berries, discovered a family of skunks that lived in the shell of a discarded old car, and found treasures to put in grandma’s apron to carry to the house. She taught me to love beauty, poetry and Jesus.
She let me mow my initials in the back yard with the push lawn mower, wallpaper the “shooney” with strips from the roll she was using to paper the dining room, and make mud pies with my cousin Phoebe by mixing in cucumbers and stuff from the garden. One time we mixed the mud with the most convenient supply of “water” from the spigot by the driveway. Turned out we were using kerosene!
What important lesson did you learn from your grandparents?
GG: From my grandmother Sickal, I learned compassion and to take in pets and people who have lost their way. I learned that being rich has very little to do with money. From my grandma Boster, I learned that if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing RIGHT. I learned that money was to be managed by people, not the other way around. I learned that “I can’t” should never be in my vocabulary; if something needed to be done, there was always a way to do it.
Did your family go to church when you were little?
GG: Are you kidding? My parents were pastors of small churches. In fact, their gift was to take a few committed people and build a fellowship that would last, finally working themselves out of a job. We either lived at church or the church lived with us. Our house was the activity hub for the youth group, the wedding chapel for those who couldn’t afford a church wedding, and the counseling center for anyone who had lost a child, their religion, or their way. It was the halfway house for recovering alcoholics, the emergency housing for fire, flood or divorce victims, and the shelter for pregnant teenagers. I wouldn’t trade anything for my childhood. It has prepared me for everything ministry has handed me in the last fifty years.
What’s something you hope your grandchildren will learn from you?
GG: I want them to be men and women of God. I hope they learn to, as our son wrote in one of his songs, “love like they’re leaving” every day. I want them to see, to hear, to sense, to touch, to smell, to taste life. I would like them to be able to recognize the eternal in every moment and to give themselves away for things that last forever.
How have you sought to instill a godly heritage in your grandchildren?
GG: I hope by enjoying my grandkids, finding delight in everything about them and wanting them to share the things I love most about life, the chief of which is how God loves me… and them.
JUST FOR FUN
If you had 2 hours of free time, what would you do?
GG: You are not serious, right? I read constantly and I write all the time. I love my garden, my potting shed and the ocean (when I can get there). But two hours of “free time”? I haven’t had that since I was twelve.
What book do you have on your nightstand right now or what book are you reading?
GG: I am almost always reading about six books at a time. Here are my current ones:
Thunder dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hengson with Susie Flory
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
Poetics by Aristotle
For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
Dumbfounded Praying by Harold M Best
Moments of Grace by Christopher de Vinck
What is your life verse?
GG: Ephesians 3:14-19 and I love it in Living Bible.