In response to the post “Grandmas,” *d* is right. We’re both very lucky to have the love and influence of such wonderful women in our lives.

For me, my grandmother, or Granny, is all the more special because she raised me. I lived with her from second grade until I was 20. To me, she’s always played a dual role of mom and grandma. Not that my mom isn’t around. That’s a complex story for another blog.

I realize how lucky I am to have grown up with Granny. She worked at a restaurant for 25 years, eventually earning a place in management, but we never had a lot. We always had enough, but nothing over-the-top. I know if I’d asked for something, she’d have done her best to get it for me because that’s the kind of lady she is. But I rarely asked. Even back then I was content to wear my clothes from Goodwill and Kmart and never expected an overpriced sweatshirt from Aeropostale or American Eagle, or Nike shoes and Levi jeans. I was happy with what I had.

While I didn’t recognize it at the time, I can look back and see just how special and valuable her guidance was. She and my grandfather had divorced before I was born and he died around the time that I was a toddler. She never had another man in her life after her marriage to him ended. She was content with her own company. She owned her home and worked hard to pay the bills and take care of me, all the while, squirreling away money.

I learned from her a simpler way to live. To be good to other people. To appreciate my family, as broken and scattered as it is.

I’d like to say that I followed exactly in her footsteps, but I am my mother’s daughter and my daddy issues coupled with a stubborn wild streak ensured that I would make my own path strewn with men and debt and heartache. I still live simply and prefer shopping at thrift and dollar stores to the big department stores. I respect my elders and have an innate desire to help others. I’m grateful to be the person I am and even more grateful to Granny for giving me such a strong example to follow.

As an adult, I find myself wanting more for myself than I did as a kid. I’ve been in the workforce for 17 years and I know what money can do. I still could care less about name brand clothes. I’m dreaming bigger. I want to fix up the house we’re in now, sell it, and buy something bigger, in the country. This has probably always been a goal for me but now, as Granny ages and keeping her in her house trailer has become increasingly difficult, I have an additional objective. I want someplace big enough where I can have Granny live with us. I know she doesn’t want to give up her independence but if we can obtain a place big enough that none of us are uncomfortable, that might help her relinquish living alone. I want her where I know she’s safe, where I know she’s fed, and where I can enjoy her company. Maybe that’s selfish. I don’t know.

That dream is why I keep trying. Despite pitfall after pitfall, and often debilitating depression, I’ve never given up that dream. It’s that dot on the horizon I keep moving toward, doing everything I know how to do to bring it closer and into focus.



*My friend and I have a deep love and appreciation for our grandmothers. Here is my contribution to jointly acknowledge these lovely women.*

Dear Grandma:

Your life is a story of subtle grace. This is a rare quality and one I someday hope to acquire. I am afraid I will never achieve the grace and wisdom I have found in you.

You have fought many battles with quiet faith. When my life feels like it is out of control, I remind myself of how you patiently handled each difficulty with a humble spirit. You didn’t complain about the injustice you were handed but remained thankful for the blessings of each experience. It is uncommon to know one who speaks not of her own pain but asks how to heal another. In a world full of people who ask to put their own needs before all others, you gladly set aside your own. You exemplified this by giving your all to those around you. You gave freely of your possessions, home and especially your love.

When I need to be reminded of kindness left in the world, I recall your life in opposition to the negativity. You try to see the purpose in the worst of things but when there is no obvious reason, you have faith that someday you will grasp what you do not understand. As a little girl, I watched you quietly kneel beside your bed in evening prayer and recently listened to your prayer the night grandpa died, thankful for your many years of marriage. You have given me lifetime of examples of faith.

As I age, I grow a deeper appreciation of you and regret that this appreciation wasn’t sooner realized. Maybe then I could have taken time to talk a little longer, consume your wisdom and further enrich my life just by being a part of yours. You are older than I remember in my childhood but you are not forgotten. You are just as beautiful and a true treasure in my life. You allowed me to grow in my own time and navigate my mistakes even when you had the wisdom to correct me. You gently guided me and encouraged the best decision but always offered a hand when I faltered.

Thank you Grandma, for living by example. I will continue to follow in your footsteps but I know I will always remain small in your shadow.