She always had plenty of freshly-sharpened No. 2 pencils. She wore white Keds and pom-pom socks but could burp louder than any teenage boy. She was the youngest of six, the mother of three, the grandmother of eight, and the great-grandmother of six.
She was a working mom long before the term “working mom” was splashed all over the covers of magazines and in debates among politicians. She always had ice cream in the freezer and perfectly organized photo albums in the closet. She loved words, handwritten notes, homemade sandwiches, and a good joke.
She was organized before the Container Store and Pinterest told us how to do it. She valued the invaluable – family photos, a good game of Scrabble, and gifts from her grandkids (she still has a stool I painted for her when I was nine – I’m no artist now and I wasn’t then – but she still had it – I’m guessing that it was because it was not only from one of her grandkids but because a stool is practical :-))
She was incredibly humble but incredibly confident.
She was my 84-year-old grandmother. She died last week. She was sick and in pain, so we see it as a blessing that she is no longer suffering. I realize how lucky I am – not many 36-year-olds have a grandmother, and not many kids have a great-grandmother.
And it’s for sure that no one had a grandmother like mine.
The past few days have been filled with family, with memories, and with stories – stories of her youth, of my mom’s and her sibling’s childhoods, of her life outside my childish perspective.
After reminiscing so much over the weekend about this woman’s life, I think I’ve figured out how she did it:
She had her priorities straight.
And here’s a little confession: I often don’t.
Sometimes I get so bogged down in the details of my own day-to-day life – the activities, the homework, the tantrums, the dinners, the busyness of raising a family – that I lose perspective. Perhaps she did, too?
Like other grandkids, I never really thought to ask her how she did it. Her time as a mom “in the trenches” had already come and gone when I came into her life, and it never occurred to me to ask her how she managed it all – how she managed to create this family that loved her so much without losing her humble confidence – or her mind.
Surely there were moments when she thought she would lose it all? If there were, I didn’t know about them. All I know is that she left an entire family who loved and respected her and is still learning from her.
I want to be that. I want to keep that going.
And thanks to my grandma, I have a head start.
When I listened to my nine-year-old daughter read from the Old Testament during her great grandmother’s funeral, I noticed she was standing on that painted stool I made so many years ago for Gram. It took my breath away. It’s something my nine-year-old self could never have imagined.
Value the invaluable.
It’s the perfect time of year to get our priorities straight – to prioritize our priorities, I guess.
I’ll be prioritizing with a freshly-sharpened No. 2 pencil.
Love this Cheryl. So sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounds like she was such a wonderful woman and role model.
You wrote this so beautifully. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Cheryl, I’m so sorry to hear of your Grandmother’s passing. What a wonderfully written and bitter sweet article. Your grandmother sounds like she was a truly a rare find on this earth. How fortunate you all must feel to have been a part of her wondrous life.
This was bittersweet because my 83 year old grandmother who was also the person I admire the most died over Thanksgiving. We too were glad she was no longer in pain and I was amazed at all the wonderful things she did in her life. Thanks for sharing your memories – put a huge smile on my face!
Thanks so much for commenting, Monica! I am so very sorry for your loss, too. Bittersweet for sure, but I am so glad my post could make you smile! Your comment made my day. We are SO lucky to have them as examples!