Grandparents like Carl and Cathy Farinelli do what they love with their grandchildren, whatever the talent or ability.
Today is Grandparents Day, and the Farinellis are devoted to teaching their grandchildren to value their heritage, their passions and gifts.
“The very best part of watching the grandkids is while they learn and grow,” Dr. Carl Farinelli said.
Farinelli, a professor of education at Northeastern State University, is also a musician who honed his craft with his children gathered around him.
“[Rachel and Michael Sage, parents of] Ashley and Kara, had a music store here when they were younger,” said Carl. “I’d love it when we had music and dance classes with the Oklahoma Heritage Dance Association and they’d dance with me.”
He also recalled how much fun it was when the girls would get up on stage and dance with him at the Senior Citizens Center. He performs regularly at the center as part of the Hole in the Wall Band.
Grandchildren Mattox, almost 6; Isaac, 4; and Lucas, 1, live at Cinco Ranch, in Katy, Texas, with parents Melody and Matt Jones.
Cathy embraces the harvest of her children’s children.
“It’s tough being a parent,” said Cathy, an elementary school teacher. “But I must have done something right. Look at my grandchildren, they’re perfect. It’s fun being part of their lives and watching them grow up. [I enjoy] seeing the great things they do. It’s like harvesting the crops after all the work. You get the harvest with your own kids, but you’re close to the work. With grandkids, it’s all harvest.”
Tahlequah High School senior Ashley Sage, 17, and her sister, sophomore Kara, 15, smile around their grandparents, laugh with them and hug – a lot.
“I appreciate the fact they’re supportive of everything we do. They’re always there for us,” Kara said. “I feel very fortunate to have been blessed with the grandparents I have.”
She values the strong influence her grandfather has had on their lives, and enjoys her grandmother’s sense of humor.
Ashley appreciates both grandparents’ intelligence.
“And I get to reap the benefits, because they’re so caring and willing to share their knowledge,” said Ashley.
Ashley also loves her grandfather’s “farewell routine.”
“Every time we leave the house, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, he follows us to the driveway and does a goofy dance he calls, ‘the bye bye’ dance,” said Ashley. “He always hugs and kisses us. We’re affectionate people.”
According to Cathy, being a grandparent means sharing talents and skills, like sewing, cooking and crocheting.
“Kara and I did photography when the interest was there,” said Cathy. “Developing their talents and accomplishments nurtures them.”
Cathy said it’s always nice to be needed, to be asked advice. She worries her advice might be out of date, but also knows some things are always appropriate.
“The classic truths are always appropriate, no matter what the age,” Cathy said. “I feel I can be relevant to my grandkids. Kids pick and choose what works for them.”
When James Cochran thinks about grandparents, he remembers Jess and Georgia Cochran in their grocery store on Muskogee Avenue.
“They had a general store with a deli that sold all types of things: meat, feed, and clothes,” said Cochran. “It was open from the 1940s to the late ‘80s. It was such a part of history. [My grandfather] had a cash register with a lever you pulled down. That old store seems like it was always a family gathering place.”
He fondly remembers spending time squirrel hunting with his grandfather, but said he also learned a lot about business skills.
His wife, Amy, grew up listening to stories of her grandfather, Floyd Young.
“He was a civilian pilot who trained pilots for the Navy, to land on aircraft carriers,’ Amy said. “As I got older, I realized his stories about landing were really crashes.Then he’d fix up the plane and take off. Mom told stories about playing on a blanket on Sunday afternoons while he would perform stunts in the airplane. People would gather around and watch. When he took her flying, he’d say they were flying to the North Pole.”
Wendi Mendenhall beams when she talks about her grandsons, Jacob and Joseph.
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