Pap and Grandma - Edited
My grandparents: Wes Buchheit and Regina Becker-Buchheit. My favorite photo of them!

I am very fortunate. This is because I was blessed enough to have four grandparents who gave me beautiful memories, made me feel loved and made me feel special. This is something every child needs.

I do not care what other’s opinions are of any of my grandparents, including my maternal grandfather. All I know is that they all treated me well and made me feel loved. I have only lived my reality and know my experiences. Therefore, my views and my feelings are based on this.

I also do not care how others feel about the name I use to refer to my paternal grandfather. This was how I desired to refer to him all my life but was not permitted to do so. If you want to think of me as a hillbilly or redneck, that is your choice and I am perfectly fine with it. I am my father’s daughter and my youngest son is his grandfather’s grandson. Both of us proud be to be country people, rednecks. It is long past time for Michelle to be Michelle and not who others want her to be.

Today is very difficult for me for some reason. I had the most wonderful day yesterday because my youngest son, Christian, who is always traveling and never home, surprised me with a visit and showed up with flowers and other gifts. The best gift was his presence and then Christian, his girlfriend, Bryce and I all went out for dinner.

I made the mistake of having a picture taken of the four of us. When I saw the picture I realized that I no longer look like me. This chronic illness has taken such a toll on my body that I can no longer stand to look at myself and had to delete the photo from Facebook. This sent me into a deep depression and I awoke this morning with the ME/CFS working over time. This means I will probably do a lot of blogging today because writing seems to help with depression.

Right now, I would like to talk about my paternal grandparents. I have a lot of regrets because I never really knew my dad’s side of the family and I feel as if I have missed quite a bit. My love of living in a rural area, the countryside, farm life, etc makes it easier for me to relate to my dad’s family, yet I feel denied of them. I am the oldest of 17 grandchildren yet I really never knew my cousins. This is something I regret deeply.

 

This is my life currently and I would not change this!

Some of my favorite childhood memories were going to spend time on my grandparent’s farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It was the highlight of my summer, my entire year.

My grandparents farm was beautiful. It sat upon a hill and my uncle’s house was at the bottom of the hill within walking distance of my grandparents’ house. The barn, outhouse, chicken coop, etc. were a bit of a distance back. There was an old, worn down abandoned house where my Great-Uncle Lou used to live. I was fascinated by this house and wanted to turn it into a playhouse. Pap would not permit me to do so, however, because he said it was no longer safe. He was also using it for storage at the time.

Grandlpap had a Shetland pony named Candy, which he kept for his grandchildren, and he taught me to ride. Both of my grandfathers had nicknames for me and when Candy had a filly my grandpap named her Shelley, which was what he always called me. I loved Shelley very much and spent as much time as I possibly could with her while at the farm.

I loved doing farm chores with grandpap and looked forward to it! There were a couple of times that he promised to wake me early so that I could do chores with him before he left for the coal mine but I awoke in the morning to find my pap had already left for the mine. I remember being very angry with him for this. I doubt I told him I was angry but someone did, probably grandma. When he returned home he would say, “you were sleeping very good and I did not want to wake you!” But all I cared about was that I wanted to collect the eggs!

My grandfather had two corn fields. The one on the right was corn for the animals and the one on the left was for us! I remember walking into the tall stalks corn with grandpap to pick ears of corn for dinner. It felt like a maze to me and I could not see above the stalks but my pap always appeared larger than life to me. I remember he seemed very tall to me and he was my compass to navigate through the corn.

After we were done picking the corn, we would bring them back to the kitchen to grandma. My grandma would shuck the corn, remove it from the cob and fry it in a pan. It was the best tasting corn I had ever had and I never have had corn that good since. I am not sure what she did but it was so delicious!

I have never really enjoyed cole slaw. Except for grandma’s! Hers was the only one I would eat. For some reason her cole slaw always tasted delicious. When I was an adult she told me that the only thing she did different was to take the time to chop the cabbage extremely fine. This makes sense as I have sensory issues.

I remember always sitting around grandma’s kitchen table. She would get out the photo albums and we would sit around her table looking at them while she explained the photographs to us. I remember after we all sat down, she would go into the laundry room, which was right off the kitchen and where she stored the photo albums, and bring them to the table.

We spent quite a bit of time around grandma’s kitchen table just talking. These are beautiful memories for me. Grandma’s kitchen table is a special memory for me.

My grandmother was a very reserved and quiet woman. She was a bit hard to read, I remember, but the memories she gave me, I will cherish forever.

Unfortunately, my time with my paternal grandparents was just not enough. I feel, as with anyone and anything else I have ever loved, they were taken from me. I believe the reason I was so close with all my grandparents was because I showed that I enjoyed spending time with them, I cared about the stories they had to tell, the knowledge and wisdom they had. I showed that time with them was very cherished.

My time with my paternal grandparents was cut short because my grandmother showed concern for me and my pap showed too much favoritism towards me. This is something that was never permitted. We were the perfect family, so how can anyone be concerned? Michelle is definitely nothing special, so why make her believe otherwise.

After about the age of 7, I rarely got to spend time with my paternal grandparents or my dad’s side of the family in general. It was rare that I got to see them. My grandfather died suddenly at the age of 64, when I was 17. I never did get to see him “one last time” in the physical realm.

Christian's Birthday Present
A chalk pastel I did of my redneck son. Art by Michelle Buchheit-Schill.

Grandma lived much longer. Until the age of 83 and I was 40. Even so, I did not get much time with her. The up side is that I did have opportunity to bring John to the farm, which he, like me, enjoyed a great deal. He became very fond his great-grandmother. They were two of a kind. Or should I say we were three of a kind? All three of us quiet and reserved. This is what we were comfortable with.

I owe pap and grandma a great deal of gratitude for giving me the beautiful memories that they did. I will cherish them forever! – Michelle

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