A Tribute to my Grandmother
I think we all have one person in our lives that we feel a special connection with (besides our spouses). There is a strong bond that is difficult to explain but so powerful that it lasts a lifetime. This is the best way for me to explain the powerful relationship that I have with my paternal grandmother.
She was such a fascinating person and there was so much depth to her life. And as close as we were while she was alive we are just now getting to know each other even better after her death. I find myself becoming more like her every day. Finally understanding the way she lived her life.
My grandma (that’s what I called her and it fits perfectly, she wouldn’t have felt comfortable with Granny or Gram and Grandmother would have been too stuffy) lived in New York and was a school teacher before she had children. She loved learning, gardening, artwork, flowers, cooking, baking, sewing and literature. My assumption is that her love for cooking and sewing came as she became a wife. I imagine that she was a lot like me as a young adult. Having high aspirations for her career and dreaming big about becoming an author, floral designer or world traveler. But God had an even bigger calling for her, to be a wife and mother (this is a photo of her with my dad, isn’t she beautiful?).
My grandma didn’t speak of herself very often so there are a lot things I do not know. But later in her life and even after her death I started getting to know this woman on a deeper level. My grandma loved me very much, this I know. At the same time there was a sadness about her that you could not ignore. I knew that she had lost a child, but shortly after she died my grandfather told me that she had actually lost three children. Now that I have children of my own I can only imagine the pain that she faced which explained the sadness that poured from her. But her own pain did not change the way she cared for others, loved others.
She was a very thrifty homemaker. She cooked three meals a day and those meals always looked alike. Grapefruit and cereal for breakfast with a small glass of orange juice, sandwiches with sliced cheese for lunch and a big meal for dinner. There were always chocolate chip cookies waiting in the freezer, but she made sure to remind you not to eat too many. My grandparents hardly ever went out to eat. Even as they traveled across country they would make their meals in their hotel room or motor home. I can only remember eating a restaurant with them one time, the day after I graduated from high school. She recycled plastic bags, my grandfather fixed appliances when they broke, and she made purchases carefully. She was a simple woman who put value on people and relationships rather than material things. Her jewelry was meaningful to her because they came from her husband and sons. And I will always cherish them because she wanted to give them to me.
My grandma pushed me. She always believed in me and wanted me to believe in myself. She encouraged me to read, keep up on my studies and love God. While I couldn’t see my future as a wife and mother she could. I was so focused on finding the American dream that I lost sight of God’s purpose for me. There were times that she forcefully tried to teach me to cook or sew and I didn’t want to listen. She wanted to teach me the things that she had worked so hard to learn. Most of the time it was a gentle reminder or simple note and over time her wisdom seeped through.
These books were give to me on my 13th birthday. Saying that I did not appreciate them would be an understatement. There is a good chance that I didn’t even open them. But years later when going through some things I opened the books. And in them was my grandma’s handwriting. One book (These Wonderful People) simply said “From My Bookshelf”. And the other (Fair is Our Land) said “This book is almost 50 years old, but these places will never change”. How beautiful it is when I sit with my children and read these books to them. The same words my grandma once read. Hidden inside one of the books was a measurements pamphlet taken from a Betty Crocker cookbook. Another gentle reminder from my grandmother to take my job seriously!
The truth is that as a teenager and young adult I never appreciated my grandmother. I loved her and was fascinated by her, but I did not appreciate her like I can now. There were many times that she wanted to teach me skills that would make me a better keeper of my home. Little did I know that I would later ache to know what she had been trying to teach me. There are so many days when I wish my grandmother was here to teach me, guide me, tell me she is proud of me. But all I can do now is thank God for the influence she has had on my life and pass that on to the next generation. I want my children to know their mother and to know me they must know her.