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Mary Jo and Thomas Fraley This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


A breeze outside apristine yet humble house flows up the driveway, scatteringgrass trimmings as a lawnmower (pushed by a solid, sunburnt,white-haired man) jounces its way across the street to theopposite yard. Inside my grandma, a glass of lemonade in onehand, her grandchild in the other, pauses to peer out thewindow at her husband behind the lawnmower under the scorchingsun and mutters, "What does he think he's doing?"

The answer, always the same, is that he is helpingsomeone. After my grandpa finishes mowing his disabledfriend's yard, he stumbles inside the cool house to see hiswife whisk out the door. He might call after her, "Whereare you going?" Regardless of the specific answer, heknows she is on her way to help out somewhere. Mary Jo andThomas Fraley, my grandparents, affectionately known as Nanaand Papa, are more than just relatives to their family andmore than just helpful friends to their neighbors. They are"antique" heroes to those they care for in thisbrash, hurried world.

Often, my mom assures me we couldnot survive a week without our grandparents. It is the mostfallacious statement in the world to say my grandpa is"retired" or that my grandma "neverworked." Within their extended family, my grandparentslook after grandchildren constantly - a monumental task. Theironly stipulation is that instead of paying them for thesemuch-needed parental services, we put that money into acollege fund. They visit the sick, and attend birthdayparties, anniversaries, funerals and luncheons, all whilekeeping their house open and impeccable for all visitors.

Nana and Papa are parents to everyone. If my momdoesn't have time to cook dinner, in with her super-heroine'scape swoops my grandma with her famous chicken and noodles.When we return from vacation, the mail is neatly stacked andthe lawn freshly mown, compliments of my grandpa. It is forthis unselfish giving that my grandparents are admired. It isbecause of their utter tenacity in a world that doesn't havetime for anyone, my grandparents are willing to take one'shand and escort one to safety.

Once, against my betterjudgment, I decided to run to my grandparent's house fivemiles away. As I knocked on their door, I realized I hadn'ttold them I was coming. They were surprised and delighted tosee me, of course, and offered to drive my home after a properbreakfast. More importantly, their words stick in my mind:"We ought to make you a key so even if we aren't here thenext time you run by, Brian, you can still come inside andhelp yourself to whatever you need." When I left rested,full and appreciative, my grandma told me, "Come bywhenever you want, we're always glad to talk to you boys. Wedon't see enough of you."

As my grandparent'sgeneration dwindles, they are sentinels in a land where stressand deadlines sail away; a tribute to the fact that we don'thave to be so busy to be happy or effective. Who will filltheir essential role when they pass on? I fear no one. Mygrandma makes most of her meals from scratch using freshvegetables from my grandpa's garden. They've never touched acomputer until recently to vote. Both my grandma and grandparead the newspaper every day. What a waste, most would say. Ican't help but say "Thank you" to them. While theymay not be technologically adept, my nana and papa help memore than I can say simply by doing the occasional favor wewere too busy to realize even needed doing.

Mygrandparents are exemplary models for the way society shouldact and for the stringent codes one should follow.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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