I've associated my grandparents with fun vacations, rather than the loving role models that many others know of their grandparents.
We took trips out to see them every other year, but those were trips to California, and they only lasted a couple weeks. We rarely saw them. And because I was a kid, I associated seeing them with special treats, like the sugar cereal Grandma England used to buy us when we were staying at her place.
My mother's parents had a cabin in the mountains, so going there meant chasing lizards, exploring the rocky forest beyond his house and sleeping in a trailer outdoors with Grandpa. We got to see deer. We camped out in the woods and saw the stars.
My father's parents lived near Los Angeles, so going there meant the beach, Disneyland, Universal Studios, that sort of thing.
I did love my grandparents, and they loved me, but as I prepare for Friday's trip out to see my last living grandfather with Mom and my brother, I realize how much I've missed.
I haven't seen him for many, many years.
I'll be out there for four days, and there is a carrot. Our hotel is near a Casino, and Mom has made it clear that I would have not one, just two nights, of live poker. Grandpa, after all, is 91 and goes to bed early.
But I'm also going out there to rekindle the good times before he's gone for good.