Grandmas Are More Than Cookies
Facebook reminded me that today was my grandmother's birthday. My grandmother passed a year ago, and I'm amazed everyday by how much she is still with me. See, my grandma was more than a little old lady who had snacks and cookies available (although she was always well stocked with junk food). My grandmother was the definition of an independent woman.
I was lucky to grow up around the corner from both grandmothers. My parents both had to work a lot, and needed time to themselves, so I spent a lot of time at my grandmothers' houses. That time allowed me to build a relationship with them that has shaped me as an individual to this day.
My grandmother Lillian was a remarkable lady. She was one of the strongest women I have ever met. I've learned that the strongest women never come off as strong at all. My grandma was like that. She rolled with the punches and let God lead the way. Married with two small girls and an older step son, my grandfather worked 2 hours away at a factory, so my grandmother took over the farm. Her husband died suddenly when my mother (the youngest) was 15. My grandmother took over all household duties and worked multiple jobs to survive. She worked male dominated jobs such as bus driver, custodian, and farmer, along with becoming the first female to head many volunteer positions such as firefighter and school board. She was a natural born leader. Involved in the community; she took part in many groups, boards, and the church. My mother became pregnant at a young age, and my Grandmother helped my parents handle getting started on their own at such a young age with nothing. Another situation happened where my aunt surrendered her two boys to my grandmother, who (at middle age) started over again raising two more children. All this without a high school or college degree, leaving home at the age of 14 to make it on her own. Whew!
I remember as a child wondering why my Grandma would always need a nap in the middle of the afternoon. She would frequently pick me up from school, and we'd eat a snack and watch a movie (she always had Disney VHS tapes!). About 20 minutes in I'd look over and she'd be passed out in the chair with the newspaper across her chest. It wasn't until this past year, when I had a child of my own, that I realized how exhausted she must have been. Like ALWAYS. Yet, I never noticed that. She never said she was tired, and she didn't stop doing things or commitments due to having too much on her plate. She still had a social life and somehow always seemed happy. And that's the key, right? That she always was able to be HAPPY.
How did she do that? Well, In my opinion it was all about her faith. See, the one thing my grandmother instilled in me is her love for God. She had a very strong faith in God, and put every trouble up to him. I remember at night she would read prayers, and throughout my teenage years when the world seemed out to get me, she would always tell me to trust in God. She always believed God was guiding her way and that she just needed to trust in him. Even during her last breaths when she was anxious about dying I reminded her that God was with her and she would visibly relax.
Toward the end of her life she still stayed remarkable. She loved to drive and during her late eighties would even drive a 60 year old friend around because the friend was afraid of driving. She worked at the post office until she was in her nineties, and regretted retiring at the age of 91. She had a facebook account, emailed and played computer games. When she got to the point of being unable to live on her own she braved her fear of flying and moved across the country to live with my mother. She helped out around the house until the day she died.
The fact that I am a strong, independent woman, who will do whatever I need to do to not only survive, but thrive---and my strong faith in God--were molded by this wonderful woman. She was there for me in a way that no one else could provide: by just lending an ear and always letting me know that her door was always open.
The point of this post is more than just a testimony to my dead grandmother. I'm a mother now, and what typically comes with motherhood is a newfound view of prior relationships. The way we handle what life throws at us is reflected in our relationships with others. I want my son to look at me and see a woman who is strong, independent and healthy. I want him to see the traits in the relationships he is around that allow him to grow up feeling secure and loved, but also treat women as equals and to have love and respect for everyone. I hope his role models in his life--Grandmothers or not-- teach him values, support him, lend an ear, teach him about God, and help him grow into the amazing young man I'm sure he will be. So when life throws stuff at you, think about how you are handling it. Be aware that you are influencing others, and trust that God has your plan figured out. He won't give you more than you can handle.
Do you have an amazing Grandma in your life? Tell us about her!