By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
“There’s nothing like it.”
There are not too many things you can say this about.
But take it from Jeannie and Charles Fancher — being a grandparent is definitely one of them.
“I can remember my husband’s mother saying you love your children and you adore your husband,” she said. “But when you have those grandchildren, that’s another world.”
With 11 grandchildren, she’s had a lot of experience in this “nothing like it” world. They range from 25 to only 8 months, “and everywhere in between,” she said with a laugh.
Even better, all but one live locally.
“I am blessed to have them so close,” she said.
Here’s the lineup.
Son and daughter-in-law Todd and Kerry Fancher are the parents of Trent, 22; Trevor, 19; Emily, 14; and Adah, who will be 14 in August.
Craig and Tara Fancher are dad and mom to Ciara, 25; and twins Caleb and Canon, 18, who just graduated from East Fairmont High School.
And Matt and Amber Fancher have Jackson, 7; Tobin, 6; Sydney, who will be 4 in August; and little Truett, 8 months.
“They’re from itty bitty to all grown up,” she said.
Twenty-five years of having grandkids means lots of soccer and dance and band practice, school programs and graduations.
“I love them all the same, but I don’t treat them the same,” she said. “I have different relationships with each one. There are so many different personalities.
“I just meet them where they are, regardless of their age. They’re all fun, and each brings something different to the table.
“But I would lay down my life for any and each of them.”
Times together, like holidays and Sunday dinners, are a lot of fun, she said.
“When everybody’s here, it’s a good time. Holidays are wonderful.”
With this many people, things can get a little hectic. There may not always be enough room for everybody to sit together.
“But we don’t care. There are other rooms where we can sit. We don’t have to flock to the same room. We just love each other so much we want to be together.”
Still, holidays can be a challenge, room-wise.
“We moved Christmas from the living room to the basement for gift opening,” she said.
Each grandchild is different, she said.
“Jackson is smart as a tack and has a scientific mind. For Christmas one year, he wanted a dinosaur egg. We got one online, and a few days after Christmas, here came the dinosaur egg.
“He invited everybody over for scrambled eggs. I didn’t go to that one,” she said with a laugh.
Some are fun-loving sorts, practical jokers.
“We all care about each other. We’re very family-oriented. It’s important to be here on Sundays, if at all possible.
“You’d think we’d get sick of each other, but every three years we take a family vacation together. We’re so blessed to have that. We don’t take that for granted.
“God’s been good to us. We give him all the glory.”
Eleven grandchildren and not one of them is alike. Or perfect, she said.
“But each is precious to us,” she said.
“They’re good kids. They’ve not caused their parents any trouble. Raising them in a Christian home makes all the difference.
“Being a grandmother is absolutely more than I ever could have dreamed of,” she said. “There was no way I ever could have guessed my life would have turned out the way it has. We are so blessed. Every one is a gift.
“I never would have fathomed that 11 energetic grandchildren would be the light of our lives.”
Little Travis, who in 1992 didn’t survive birth, is included as a member of the family.
“So we’ve had good times and some heartaches. We’ve been through a lot, as most grandparents have, but nothing major,” she said.
“We would lay down our lives for them. We’d do anything in the world for our grandchildren.”
Sunday dinner can get pretty wild, she said.
“When there’s a stranger here, I feel I should almost apologize for it, but I don’t. That’s family life. I wish I could hear everybody talking at the same time. Some things you catch; some things you don’t.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We laugh together. We cry together. We pray together as a family. The Lord is the center of all our lives.
“The biggest challenge is figuring out what to have for Sunday dinner. But they don’t come here for the food. They don’t care if they had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They just enjoy coming.”
And who knows? There could be more grandchildren waiting in the wings.
“And maybe in the next five, seven years, maybe we can start on the great-grandkids,” she said.
“They’re my world.
“It’s a different kind of love,” she said. “Maybe because we’re older and have more of an appreciation. When you’re raising your children, it’s different. You’re more conscious of their manners and things. It’s an awesome responsibility.
“With grandchildren, you’re more relaxed. You don’t have the sole responsibility. It’s more fun. It’s not all homework and baths.
“You don’t take them for granted. They’re an extension of your family.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.