#8216;Grandmother#8217; offers love to St. Lawrence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Virginia Cremeans may only have two children, but she says she has more than 90 grandchildren.

Cremeans, a Lawrence Street resident, has been a part of the lives of St. Lawrence School students since the fall and has worked countless hours making candy, goody bags and other treats for the students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Because she lives across the street from the school, Cremeans — whom the children affectionately call “grandmother” — said she would often see the children during their recess or after they got out of school. She is a part of a Native American group called Ani-tsa’lgi that regularly practices native drumming in her yard, which is how she first came into contact with the youngsters.

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“They would come out there and they loved to watch us,” Cremeans said. “So, that’s really how things got started.”

It quickly escalated from there. At Halloween, she dressed in her traditional garb and visited the school — an educational experience that was a hit with the kids, she said. She also began coming to the school bearing delectable delights, a tradition she has continued since then.

The breast cancer survivor was still going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the time — she just finished treatments last week — but Cremeans said she never considered letting her “grandchildren” down.

“They are my angels. There have been days when I felt my worst and they are the ones that pulled me through it,” she said softly.

Vicki Hull, the school’s music teacher, said when Cremeans was going through difficult times, the children would include her in their daily prayers and would send her heartfelt cards.

“They weren’t told what to write, but what they came up with was so beautiful. The capacity these children have to love is immeasurable,” Hull said.

Hull said Cremeans, who is not Catholic herself, has brought something special to the school.

“Even though she is not any blood relation, she has taken them into her hearts and they have done the same,” Hull said. “Like a mother hen, they flock around her every time she comes over. They know someone cares and loves them.”

And, Hull said, the money for all the projects she does comes out of her pocket.

Right now, Cremeans’ dining room is filled with homemade Easter baskets, each one cut from gallon jugs, hand painted and filled with plastic grass. They will soon be filled with homemade candies and other treats. A corner of her kitchen is crammed with treats for the baskets, including some special requests from the children.

“At Valentine’s Day, we had one little boy that loved (candy) Cow Tales and he said he would like some of those next time I made goody bags, so he will get some in his Easter basket,” she said with a smile.

Cremeans is married to Charles, who owns the Ironton Barber Shop. She has two sons, two grandsons, one granddaughter and another grandchild on the way. She is currently making quilts — 15 to be exact — for each of her grandchildren and some of her friends.

She joked, “I guess I just can’t sit still.”