By Joshua Winata
The Cove Herald
Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it comes to the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren, but it is a frequent reality in mobile, military communities.
Matt and Sharon Davis, residents of West just north of Waco, faced such a challenge this year when they bid farewell to their granddaughter Madelyn Forbes, who is attending first grade at Martin Walker Elementary School this year. Forbes had lived with her grandparents since the age of 2 while her military father was deployed overseas, and this will be her first school year in Copperas Cove away from them.
As devoted grandparents, the Davises, therefore, were more than happy to make the 90-mile journey to attend the Grandparents Day Luncheon hosted by Martin Walker Elementary on Friday to see their granddaughter and familiarize themselves with Madelyn’s new campus.
“Her Daddy said she’s been doing well,” Sharon said. “It’s a very nice school. It’s the first time I’ve been in here. It’s so open and bright. It’s very cheerful.”
The luncheon, hosted by elementary schools across the Copperas Cove Independent School District, was conceived as a way to involve extended family and other loved ones into students’ education.
“We didn’t really have anything specific for grandparents. Since Grandparents Day is a recognized holiday, we try to do something to include them,” said Nancy Rivera, Walker Elementary parent liaison.
A proclamation designating the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day was passed by Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
Visitors to the elementary school were invited to dine on a feast of pizza, kernel corn, apple slices and milk, but several grandparents surprised their posterity by bringing the children fast-food lunches. In a show of hospitality, the school’s cafeteria was decorated with checkered tablecloths and red and purple carnations in glass vases for the event.
Students were thrilled to have Grandma and Grandpa come visit them in their own environment and chatted excitedly about their first week in school.
“I think it’s nice because they don’t always come all the time, so it’s kind of fun once in the school year,” said third-grader Caroline Harrison, whose grandparents, Glynn and Dorothy Harrison, came to lend their support.
Rivera said the event is not just limited to grandparents, so any child can participate regardless of his or her family’s status. More than 130 visitors attended the luncheon, including parents, aunts, uncles and sometimes even teachers or mentors.
“With it being a military community, we always ask the kids too if they have a significant person in their life,” Rivera said. “A lot of the grandparents kind of include all of the kids when they sit at the table. They kind of take them under their wing.”
Living in a military community, many students in Copperas Cove have erratic and unconventional relationships with extended family. Some children, like Forbes, wind up spending years with their grandparents and forming strong bonds while their parents are deployed.
“You know that saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? In this kind of area, it takes an extended family,” Sharon Davis said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, other children, who have relocated time and time again, never stay in one place long enough to become close with relatives.
“It’s a little sad that there probably are not a lot of grandparents around because it’s a military environment,” Sharon added. “I almost wish I could be everyone’s grandma.”
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-6481