A Girl and her Grandma {lessons from days gone-by}

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One of my favorite pictures with my Grandma.

{Author’s note: This post is a reflection of my Grandma who passed on May 7, 2015. I love you Grandma!}

Growing up in the eighties I came from a single-parent home. While seen more often today, single-parent homes were rare at that time. Sure, I knew a few others who also had only one parent in their home, but for the most part, my friends had both a mom and dad who tucked them in at night or whom they yelled good-bye to as they ran out the door for school. Not me.

My mom is my hero when it comes to parenting. First off, I know the ups and downs of the one she raised. Whether it was a good day or bad, she was wholeheartedly committed to me. The love and care she gave me still brings a smile to my face today. She never had a day off (what momma does??), but for her, there wasn’t another ear to bounce parenting thoughts and questions off of, nor was there another income to help with my needs. It was her, and often, my grandma stepped in.

Grandma retired early in my childhood; for me, this meant lots of quality time. I spent countless days and nights with my grandma. Riding in her blue Chevy Nova, standing at her side in the kitchen or following her through a store; those days afforded me many precious memories and lessons.

Grandma was a master gardener.  She had a small piece of land behind her home where she grew a luscious vegetable garden, but this space wasn’t enough for her. She spread her gardening skills out across the county where she lived. From her children’s homes to her neighbor’s, she would plant, care for and harvest vegetables all summer long.  If you caught her in a conversation about gardening chances were she would offer you one of her personally harvested seeds, along with some advice on how to plant and grow the seed.  A few years back when I realized grandma’s memory and health were starting to fail I called her on the phone and picked her mind about everything gardening. The notes I took from that conversation will always be a treasure to me.

Speaking of her garden, I can still smell her half-runner beans simmering with bacon on the stove. Still today, my favorite summer meal is what grandma fondly called a garden meal: half-runner beans, fried squash, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers in vinegar and oil and fried potatoes. That’ a lot of “fried,” but oh was it good! Does anybody ever cook like your grandma?

With all that home grown food came grandma’s love for canning. Tomatoes, green beans, jams, jellies, even venison. If it could be preserved in a jar, she probably tried it. I remember sitting at her feet as she sat with a large white dishpan on her lap stringing green beans in preparation for canning. She’d give me a bowl of beans to string, too, but she’d always check my work when I was finished. No strings were permissible in grandma’s beans.

When it came to tomatoes, I spent many late nights at her side as she stood over her large white kitchen sink peeling, juicing and packing jars full for the canner. I’m thankful for those days; in fact, I treasure them! What grandma was doing back then was more than preserving food; she was instilling in me a life skill that will forever live on in each jar I can for my family today.

If I gained anything from my grandma I hope her spirit of perseverance is at the top of the list. Grandma had a spirit of perseverance and determination like no other. Whether it was getting a stain out of a shirt, cleaning her home before a family dinner or pressing on after a negative health report. Grandma never gave up! She kept on, and while she never said it, I am pretty sure her life motto may have been: “nothing is going to stop me.” She passed at the beautiful age of 89, long after her doctors said she would live.

There are many more things I hold in my memories of grandma: her beautiful crocheting, working jigsaw puzzles, going fishing, Christmas dinners, walking across town to pay her bills, late night runs to Hardees for a roast beef sandwich or daytime trips to Wendy’s for a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, and so much more.

I never remember Grandma telling me “no.” I am sure she did, but it just doesn’t stand out in my mind. She wiped my tears as a child and gave me advice about life’s challenges until the early years of my adulthood. Her wisdom always seemed to make sense. She was the only grandparent I ever had, and today, I am grateful to be able reflect about our time together with joy.

As a child I never envisioned the day grandma would no longer be living. She was my “Super-Grandma,” and don’t all super heroes live forever? But, as time has passed I now have a greater understanding of life and the words pinned in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” 

Yes, Lord, let us learn well.

I love you grandma! Thank you for investing in my life!

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