My grandparents, Geza and Violet Janzso, were amazing people.
They not only raised their own four children, but also openly accepted the added responsibility of taking my two sisters and me in, and raising us as well.
Now that both have passed away, I seem to appreciate more than ever their many sacrifices and the love, compassion and direction they provided to me.
What's even more incredible is that they were not only grandparents, but in every sense of the word, parents.
They met all the duties and obligations parents fulfill – and even more – in terms of the care and counsel they selflessly offered.
From sending me off on my first day of kindergarten and ensuring clothing and hot meals were provided and supporting me and cheering me on throughout my childhood and young adult life, to ensuring I was safe and displaying – by action and example – love and discipline, they were and still are model parents.
Recently my grandmother passed away. In the short period of time I spent with her during her final two weeks, I witnessed the strength, resilience and humor that was the core of who she was.
Up until her final moments, she was her usual comical and witty self and shared kind, considerate remarks with family and nursing home staff.
A week before her passing, while I was in the room alone with her, she reached out for my hand, gently gripped it and held it as she slowly drifted off to sleep.
Being who she had always been, she reached out to me yet again, as she did when I was a small infant and child, showing me she cared and loved me.
I can confidently say, I do not know where I would be had she and my grandfather not invited me into their home at the age of 5 and provided a happy, warm and safe childhood and teenage experience.
I am certain I would not be alive had they not raised me. I probably would be dead, in prison or wandering the streets.
Although they are no longer alive, the countless memories I have of both of them will live on.
I will be reminded daily of what they did for me, how they sacrificed much of their personal lives for me and how they made every effort to ensure I was afforded a normal childhood, like the other children in my community.
More importantly, I will be reminded of how they imparted on me their perseverance and strength, along with their heart for the underdog and those less fortunate.
Perhaps one day they will be the first ones to meet me in the next life. I hope so.
Heaven belongs to those individuals who, like the both of them, spend their lives on this planet giving, providing and caring for others.
Until that time comes, my purpose while I am alive is to share with those I come in contact with the impact they had on my life.
Christmas is just around the corner. Many of you reading this editorial have grandparents who are still alive
Honor them not only by your words, but by spending time with them.
Allow them to offer their advice and humor and to shower on you their love.
The love of a grandparent is priceless. Don't allow the sweet gift of a grandparent's presence and love go wasted.
To my grandparents: I sincerely appreciate all you did for me. As I got older, I often did not share with you how I felt, but I loved you both. I still do love you. And I always will love you.