editor’s column: Coffee-flavored yogurt and Grape Nuts: a living tribute to my grandmother

By Anthony Welch

With Valentine’s Day upon us, I’d like to take the opportunity to write a little something for my grandma, Gail Cornett. She’s going through a rough time right now as she battles pancreatic cancer.

This comes one year after my grandfather, Charles Cornett, passed away from cancer. 

All of this has me reminiscing about my grandparents and the time I spent with them growing up. 

Grandma and Papa did a great job of doing what grandparents do: spoiling their grandkids. Once I took up percussion in school, Grandma took me to a music store. She ended up buying me my first tambourine and my first cowbell. I’m not sure what happened to the cowbell, but I still have the tambourine.

Papa & Grandma: Charles and Gail Cornett, along with my nephew Gabriel Welch.

My siblings and I always looked forward to weekends at Grandma’s house. We were quick to raid the toy closet which was overflowing with old fashioned toys that our mom, aunt and uncle had played with. We’d create large castles out of building blocks only to have Papa topple them over with a pillow, which infuriated the heck out of us.

Most of those toys are still in that closet, and I’ve gone on to watch my son, nieces and nephews play with them—even a great-niece.

Grandma and Papa’s used to be the traditional spot for Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. Backyard barbecues were also a tradition. Papa was well-known for making us eat way more than we wanted to at meals. As a teen, I once took down six hamburgers at his urging. Grandma always had the best snacks, too! When I got older, I looked forward to staying up late, enjoying a cereal bar and coffee-flavored yogurt with Grape-Nuts while searching through the TV Guide to see what late-night, scary movies might be on. This was all before late-night talk shows inundated the networks. We also used to fight about who was going to ask her to make her glorious air-popped popcorn.

Grandma was always good about remembering grandkids’ birthdays. To this day, she still sends me a check for my birthday. She also taught Sunday school. While my siblings would tag along, I was fortunate enough to sleep in because Papa didn’t go to church. But he would have their dog, Herm, storm into the room and wake me up before I really wanted to.

Papa was the kind of guy that didn’t stand for any crap. He was very blunt, a little like myself. To me, he was cooler than John Wayne.

My grandma has always been very kind and loving. She’s also tough, a little stubborn at times and just might beat this. I love you, Grandma. 

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. 

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