A group of researchers recently came together to conduct a study. They wanted to determine a grandparent’s worth in the life of a child. My family and I could have saved them a lot of time and money if only they had asked us. We would have told them about our grandma. Two daughters, eight grandchildren, seventeen great- grandkids and all their spouses have been lucky enough to have her in our lives.
As a young wife she held a baby on one hip and waved her husband off to war. There was no Internet in those days. No phone calls home either. Just some letters and care packages with long stretches in between. If Grandma found this stressful or difficult to handle, I don’t know. She’s never complained. The war ended and her husband came home. Other wars have come and gone since then. Her husband, son-in-law, grandson and grandson-in-law have all served their country well. Grandma still does. She donates items to her church, which they send to troops in Iraq. Nameless, faceless men and women benefit from the generosity she has always shown us.
Over the years she has given her family clippings from her garden, loaned out her car, money if we needed it, tools, Tupperware, clothes, lent us her ear, the shelter of her home and a shoulder to cry on. She has dried enough tears to have flooded Hoover Dam and still manages to keep a dry hankie rolled up her sleeve!
Grandma has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. She’s sewn ruffles on little red dresses so they last longer. Turned a tractor ride around the farm into an amusement park roller coaster, made zucchini a treat and a wooden fork into a treasure. She has patched holey jeans, replaced buttons, hemmed dresses, and outfitted dolls.
Across time and generations she's wrangled freckle faced cowboys, bathed royal princesses, cheered the M.V.P., doctored the bruised adventurer and partied like a pirate. She has sat through doctor appointments, recitals, soccer games, graduations, weddings and baptisms. Nothing, though, can bring out the best in our Grandma like Christmas. Who else would save a card her grandson made 40 years ago, and faithfully put it out year after year? She has been gifted with ornaments made of clothes pins, glue and more glue. They’re more precious to her than if they were diamonds and gold. Ceramic ornaments that have been scribbled on by tiny hands are hung out as if great works of art. Three generations crowd around her tree and the youngest ones are passed their presents first. Grandma knows it’s hard to contain a lot of patience in little bodies.
No matter the season, she has taught us to love and value our family. Most of the grandkids never got to meet Grandpa. She has made sure we knew him anyway. Through pictures and stories she has kept his memory alive. Grandpa’s family lives out west and Grandma made regular pilgrimages with us kids to visit them. She’s toured DisneyLand with us. Sat in the sand along side of us. More than one grandchild has seen the ocean for the first time with Grandma by their side. Along the way she gave faces to names we have always heard tossed around. Our Grandpa’s mom, sisters and brothers are real to us because of Grandma.
She has been our seamstress, nurse, short order cook, maid, chauffeur and General rallying the troops. She has baby-sat us, rang in the New Year with us, given us pony rides, kept our favorite foods stocked and stood ankle deep in the snow, yelling “be careful” as we sped by on our sleds. There have been bingo games, sleepovers, sandwiches at J.& J.s and yard sales. She has laughed at our antics, scolded us when we needed it, taken pride in our accomplishments, worried for us and loved us when it seemed like no one else did. One of the best things she ever did was teaching her daughters how to be the kind of Grandma she is.
Grandma has taught her family some important life lessons:
Tend your garden if you want to grow something beautiful.
Challenge your mind. Puzzles, cards and board games are just plain fun.
So is dressing up like a clown every now and then!
Love your family.
Honor the memories of the ones that are gone.
Mend what you can.
Give what you’re able.
Always gather your loved ones around a big table.
At the age of 80 Grandma remarried. The lesson that day:
Life goes by quickly. Grab hold of some happiness and love whenever it comes your way.
Why would anyone think they could put a value on that?