Gadabout Grandparents

Retirement is not what it used to be. I remember doing minimal checking with their grandparents for a convenient time to bring my children for a visit when we lived several states away. Rarely did they have something that might interfere. Times have changed. Retirees may work second jobs that fill a longtime hankering or volunteer at something that satisfies a passion. Others start something wholly new that takes on a life of its own.

Take my friend Martha Ginn, for example. In her first life, she successfully worked in the business world, raised a fine son and daughter, and shared a good life with her husband Roy. On something of a whim after she retired, she began to do fine needlework and quilting. She made some standard quilts in beautiful patterns before she began to branch out.  In a synopsis, as one thing led to another, the quilts became ever more intricate and ever more revealing of the hidden artist who created them. My personal favorite is one she made with squares that she designed to show the things that are important in her life. From quilts, Martha progressed to fiber art designs of all sizes and shapes worthy of hanging and of the many ribbons they have won in exhibits. When I visited her, Roy made sure I didn’t miss seeing every piece of her work, including whatever was in progress.

Naturally she saw a need for an organization of quilters who shared ideas and techniques, so Martha became a ringleader first in the Pine Belt Quilters of South Mississippi and then in the Mississippi Quilt Association. Her work turned up in quilting books and magazines along with articles she wrote to explain her techniques.

This year she may have received the biggest honor yet as an American quilt exhibit traveled to China. Martha was thrilled when a picture of her quilt was selected for the cover of the brochure, but that was not all. She was chosen to represent the quilters and present programs on American quilting to several civic and educational groups in China. Lest you think all this might have gone to her head, she still does quilted post cards to send to friends, depicting things that are meaningful in her relationship with them. I’m proud of my collection.

Robert Browning was onto something as he thought past youth, “the best is yet to be.” Another good life awaits after retirement. People paint, tutor, golf, do woodwork, or bake. Some of us play with words. Few sit idly in rocking chairs. Today’s grandchildren are still cherished, but they may have to fit themselves into the busy schedule of grandparents on the move.

If you are interested in more about Martha and pictures of her work, check out her website at