Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Things My Grandmother Taught Me

 How lucky was I? My grandparents lived next door to me growing up at Lake Sunnyside. We walked to their house across our lawn, so often, we wore a path in the grass. That's my yellow house and their white house in the background. I honestly spent more time at their house than my own for most of my childhood. I loved my grandparents as much as anyone else- well no- I loved them more than I've ever known anyone to love a grandparent. There. I said it. My grandparents were simply the best and yours cannot compete. 
My 100% Irish grandmother never worked a career job. She raise three children through the innocent 1950's and teenagers through the turbulent 1960's. She was a stereotypical housewife that stayed home, raised the kids and took care of all household details. She did this all without ever driving a car. She was driven around town by my grandfather, eventually my mother, and then, briefly, us grandchildren. When we went over to her house to see her, we did not have the distractions my children have today when visiting with their Grandparents. We didn't turn on the TV . We didn't carry over our ipads, laptops, or choose from hundreds of shows to watch on-demand or stream movies through Netflix. We actually spent time together. We followed her around the house and did things with her. 
On Friday nights, my sisters and I would pack a suitcase, kiss our parents goodbye and walk next door for the weekend with our Gramma and Grandpa. At the end of the weekend, everyone would come over for Sunday night dinner and we'd sit at the table and talk. I look back and am so grateful for everything they taught me. As my kids spend time with their grandparents, I'll try and remember to leave all the technology at home and see what magic can happen. 

Here are some wonderful things my Grandmother taught me: 

-how to be a good hostess 
-how to prepare for company without stress (still working on this)
-how to make a bed properly- every day.
-how to pack away seasonal clothes
-how to organize your jewelry drawer and label each box
-how to make a cake and display it on the kitchen counter
-how to set a table
-how to address a letter
-to appreciate nice stationary and the art of letter writing
-how to write a nice note in each Christmas card
-how to make company feel welcomed with drinks & a hot dinner ready
-how to make stacks of pancakes, bacon, coffee and juice to feed a houseful- hot and all at the same time.
(she would even heat up the maple syrup)
-how to fold laundry 
-how to iron
-how to darn socks
-how to sew simple stitches
-how to dust furniture & vacuum
-how to mix a Manhattan, Tom Collins and a Shirley Temple and serve it on a tray with a napkin
-how to stock a fridge with things you know your guest will like- even if you don't
-how to listen to a friend on the phone- for hours!
-how to dress up for the Holidays (head to toe in green for St. Patty's Day)
-how to rock costume jewelry
-how to put something festive in each room for Christmas
-how to dye Easter eggs
-how to use a shoehorn
-how to sift flour
-how to sit quietly in church (suck on hard candy)
-how to say grace
-how to disguise passing gas with a laugh or cough (which may not always work)
-how to have a hot meal on the table for your husband even if he's retired too
-how to be there for your children through thick and thin
-how to say you love someone. She rarely said 'I love you' but you knew she did.
-how to put on lipstick even when you're just running out to the store
-how to keep a bowl of hard candy on the coffee table at all times
-how to give your honest opinion when asked (or not)
-how to serve ice cream with chocolate syrup and peanuts
-how to have a few cocktails and not act drunk and sloppy (I am still working on this one)
-how to age gracefully and embrace the white hair
-how to be appreciative when others need to care for you
-how to keep your humility when you lose your ability to do things for yourself
-how to close your eyes while telling a story so you can imagine being there
I miss you everyday, Gram.


  1. I can NOT believe you put "to Vaccum" on this list!! but everything else your spot on!

  2. Beautiful! As I approach the grandparenting years, may I instill even half of what you've been blessed to receive from your grandmother. Thanks for this ... it made my day!

  3. A beautiful post! I grew up without knowing both sets of grandparents but two elderly neighbours made up for this lack. I look back and realise how much they taught me and how patient these women were :-)

  4. I love this post more than anything. I miss my grandmother, who passed away in 1989. One thing I always remember about her was that she never wore pants. Always a dress or skirt, and a very thinning, yet proper gray bun with many bobby pins. Thank you for this, you made me feel something today I haven't thought of for a bit. :)

  5. Oh my, I can only imagine how great your childhood must have been. Very few of us are able to grow up with constant communication with our grandparents. It must have been really nice to be at your grandmother’s because you felt cherished and loved. And I am sure, you did the same for her.

    Carl Brighton

  6. I really love your post. I feel very similar about my 'Granny Smith'. I am writing an essay about intergenerational learning and the transfer of embodied knowledge within the grandparent-child dynamic. Can I email you some questions for my essay?

  7. You must have had a lovely childhood. Yes, we’d always remember our grandmothers with the fondest memories. They’re always there for us and they just bake the most delicious treats. It must have been amazing going on “visits” with your grandma next door. And she did teach you some awesome life lessons.
    Demetrius Flenaugh