My grandmother would have been 87 this year.
But she died almost two years ago after a massive hemorrhagic stroke, a week and a half after her birthday.
Death wasn’t sudden, it took four days for her to realize the gravity of the situation, weigh her options, decide to say ‘goodbye’ and let go. She died with dignity and she definitely had the last word. There is a comically sad and heartwarming story there, one that I’ve told over and over again and may document one day.
But today I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with her and the things she taught me.
Day 6 – November 6th – Today I am profoundly grateful for grandmothers.
Grandmothers are a unique lot.
Nanas, Grannies or MawMaws, it really doesn’t matter what you call them, these women are always mothers but they are not YOUR mother. Which means, unless they’re raising you, grandmothers have the ability, and usually desire, to let certain things slide. These ‘certain things’ are the same behaviors that absolutely did not pass muster when they were wielding the mom badge with their own children: Dirty hands, faces and feet in the house; eating dinner in front of the television set; candy as a food group; staying up way past bedtime.
As my mother tells it, her mother had four children specifically so they could cook and clean for her. And they did. But, this same woman, in the role of my grandmother was famous for home cooked meals, messy craft projects and made-to-order pies.
My grandmother taught me how to crochet and knit.
To be completely fair, my mom tried to teach me both skills but, for whatever reason (I can think of about forty-five reasons), she was much harder for me to listen to and learn from. I also have a sneaking suspicion that my mother may have had less patience with me since I’ve now seen a similar situation play out with my children and my own mom in her role as Grammy.
My mom is a wonderful mother but the woman who visits my children a couple of times a year does NOT resemble the woman who raised me. She looks like my mother but she acts like Mary Poppins on 5-hour Energy.
Grammy gives my children get anything and everything they ask for in the realms of food, toys and clothing.
Initially this was incredibly annoying to me and we had a conversation when my daughter was an infant when yet another box arrived at the house:
- Me: “Mom. Really. You don’t need to send all this stuff. She does not NEED any more clothes.”
- Mom: “Look. I am the GRANDMOTHER and it is my RIGHT to buy my GRAND DAUGHTER anything I want to.”
There was an implied “So There” that came across the phone lines loud and clear leaving no room for misinterpretation.
Boxes would continue to arrive.
Now I just shrug. It makes her happy to make them happy.
But, in the grandmother role, Grammy’s standout feature is the gift of time.
Since they were tiny, she has spent hours upon hours playing with them. Barbies, LEGOs, paperdolls, craft projects, whatever. If they ask, she suddenly has the energy to make it happen. And every activity, every hour she spends doing something with them is an hour remembered and a memory made.
I didn’t see my grandmother often as a child, we lived halfway across the continent, but when I did, the time was magical. Nail painting with colors my mother would never let me buy; dinner in a kid-sized lawn chair in front of the television set; messy crafts on the breezeway; a sewing room full of tulle and embellishments the cousins and I were free to rummage through.
And, one summer, she taught me how to make fancy bows out of paper ribbon.
My grandmother is gone but her time with me was a gift that will not be forgotten and I am grateful for those memories.
Late last year my mother taught my daughter how to knit and crochet - something I didn’t quite have the patience for.
And I know this is a gift my daughter will remember for the rest of her life. And, one day, she will be profoundly grateful.
NOTE: If you'd like to spend the month in a similar state of gratitude, you can play along with me here in the comments section – What are you Grateful for? - or check out KindSpring.org to sign up for their 21-day Challenge that begins TOMORROW!