Thursday, May 28, 2009

What I Learned On My Trip To Nebraska

As you know, I went to Nebraska this past weekend to hang with G&G Tejeda. They're not native Huskers. My grandparents are originally from Southern California but after my father died they moved to a little town near Columbus to be closer to my Aunt Toni. They've been there since 1999ish.

Since living in Texas, I've made the trek three states and 14-hours drive up to Nebraska to see them. It's a brutal trip but like a good granddaughter I do it because I love them and they're all I have left of my dad.

Grandpa is an 82 year old WWII Navy vet who served on the USS Lunga Point. Grandma is a 76 year old classy lady who always has her makeup on by the time breakfast is ready and I'm just crawling out of bed. They've been married for 58 years, go to church every Sunday and love their #1 granddaughter. Yeah I'm that cool. I was also the first for many years ;)

Normally my trips are full of watching tv or sleeping or baking pies or shopping but this time I didn't want to do any of that. Well that's not true. I did some sleeping/napping and I didn't really do any shopping because I'm broke, but that's besides the point. What I really wanted to do was spend some time talking to them - so I did. That generated not only some hilarious twitter posts but I also learned some amazingly, mind blowing things about my grandparents that I never knew before.

So here is my composition on What I Learned On My Trip To Nebraska by: Natalie Tejeda

Finally found my grandparents at the Omaha airport. I walked right past them. Doh! from TwitterBerry

Just found out my grandparents got married at the "hitchin post" in Las Vegas 58 years ago! Scandalous!! from TwitterBerry

They knew each other 3 months before running off to Vegas to get married. They left my great grandpa a note and eloped! from TwitterBerry

That was in 1951. In those days it was quite controversial for a white girl to marry a hispanic man. When they returned from Vegas my Grandmothers father was furious and had sold her car as punishment. However he later came around and he and my Grandfather became good friends.

All the corn fields are full of seedlings. My GPA says by July they'll be knee high from TwitterBerry

Time for the Sunday grandparents ritual church then lunch. from TwitterBerry

Hot damn GPA is flying through town like we're not going to get a seat at church! Services don't start for another 1/2 hour and we just parkd from TwitterBerry

Things are getting serious gma just made a beeline for the front door. I'm confused b/c the parking lot is still empty from TwitterBerry

@guerra2100 4th pew and meeting the whole congregation practically. I'm the mysterious visitor/granddaughter from Texas from TwitterBerry

Man what a rushed schedule we are on. No time for chit chat after church. GPA must be hungry. We're off to the upscale "chances are" restnt from TwitterBerry

Just passed a cattle ranch. Seriously what are they feeding them cabbage? from TwitterBerry

Having fun talking with GPA about his ww2 days on the USS lunga point. His ships yearbook is way cool. He even has a tattoo from TwitterBerry

My Grandfather has worked many jobs in his lifetime. As a young boy he set up pins at a bowling alley. As he got older he was a caddy at a golf course and eventually played on the golf team in high school. He joined the service when he was 17 and wanted to be a pilot but was too tall. After the Navy he worked in several automobile factories before joining Hughes Aircraft. Both he and my Grandmother retired from Hughes.

Overheard on the porch: gma: oh a bird shit on the window GPA: yeah we have some birds that really drop a load gma: this is big poo! TwitterBerry

I have never, EVER, EVER heard my grandmother utter a swear word in her life before.

Overheard in the car: gma: I forgot my glasses. Gpa: you don't need to see from TwitterBerry

You know I have never heard them have a serious fight. I'm sure they have but I've never heard them have it out. They've chided each other or picked a little bit but I've never heard them call each other names or belittle each other. I once asked them the secret to a marriage lasting so long and they said a few things 1) you just don't quit 2) *jokingly* Grandma's too old to run away now 3) they also said look for someone who you know will be there when you're old and grey, and who would be willing to wipe your a** for you if you couldn't (thanks for that Grandpa)

As I walked down the ramp toward security and my departing flight at the Omaha airport I looked back to see my G&G Tejeda, standing there with tears in their eyes. They watched and waited as I made my way through security. I would have been just fine if they had just slowed down the car and let me dive roll out at the curb but they insisted on parking and walking me in.

That's the difference between us and them. We're so fast paced, so self centered, is it convenient? Yeah I'll drop you off. Yeah I'll pick you up. Call me when you're outside.

How often do we make the effort to go to the door at a friends house? Or do we just call and say "I'm outside." How often do we just do ten circles around the airport or wait in the cell phone waiting lot instead of parking and walking in to meet our friends and loved ones?

They were willing to wait for me when I arrived in Omaha and see me off when I left. They went the extra mile. Just like their marriage, just like their jobs at Hughes, they gave it their all. It's amazing what you learn when you're not even trying to learn anything.

So am I going to give up my cell phone, my fast paced life, become a nun and move to BFE...come on...lets get real....look who's writing. But maybe...just maybe...I'll slow down a tad, call them a little more often, ask others how they're doing and remember its quality not quantity that counts.


  1. Can you drop me off at the airport on June 11? ;)

  2. Thanks for posting this, Natalie. I've known your grandparents snce your dad was about 1 or 2 years old. Wonderful people! I admire them very much.
    Clerice Fisher (widow of Bettie's brother, Paul Fisher)

  3. Sonya GreenhalghMay 29, 2009 at 12:11 AM

    Natalie, What a beautiful essay about your Grandma and Grandpa (my Aunt Betty and Uncle Ed). I learned things I didn't know about them! My heart warmed with even more love for them! They are WONDERFUL people and I am grateful to have them in my life (I just wish I could see them more often). Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your trip! It may not mean much to some but it means TONS to me! Your cousin--Sonya Greenhalgh