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Things I Learned From My Grandma

When I tell a story that involves my mother, to someone who hasn’t met my mother, I usually add the disclaimer of “oh you’d love my mom; she’s the cutest, sweetest lady ever.” And if my sidebar claim isn’t enough, learn more about her superwoman powers here.

As absolutely wonderful as my mother is, I’ve been realizing more and more that she gets it from her mother, my beautiful grandmother who turns 85 today. I feel incredibly blessed to come from a line of strong, intelligent, and kind-hearted women. I don’t know who I would be without them.

My grandparents lived about an hour away from where I grew up, meaning they were always close by for holidays, school events, birthdays, etc. One of my earliest memories of their visits was the occasional surprise stop at Dunkin Donuts. Her and my grandfather would arrive as I was shuffling sleep from my eyes and traipsing around the kitchen searching for breakfast. Back then, the donuts with the black and white drizzled frosting were my favorites.

I could spend posts on posts talking about the board game stash in the basement of their old house or how my cousin and I would hang out in the closet beneath the stairs – making it our own private fort. I could talk about Eat N Park breakfasts (it’s a Pittsburgh thing), the dancing flower that sat on their front porch, or any of the other countless tangible memories I have growing up with my grandparents nearby.

But today is my grandmother’s birthday...and instead I want to dedicate this post to her.

I can think of any “good” trait you use to describe a person and none of them will ever measure up to accurately depict the kind of person my grandmother is.

On Friendship:

My grandmother’s best friend was a woman named Pat. Pat lived near my grandparents and we were constantly doing things together, as one family unit. We called her Aunt Pat. I think I was quite a bit old before I realized there was no blood relation there.

My grandma had simply known Pat for years. They’d raised their kids together and when the grandkids came along, we were all just accepted as another part of this extended “family.” The friendship between these two amazing women was unrivaled. There’s something very impactful about seeing strong relationships at a young age – so much so that I remember texting my high school best friend something along the lines of “I want you to be my Pat.”

Seeing these kind of really meaningful relationships is what helps you recognize that some bonds will never be broken by time, distance, or other external factors. My grandmother showed me what pure genuine friendship looks like. I am grateful for that.

On Kindness:

My grandmother embodies kindness. In a traditional, charitable sense, she has always been involved in volunteer work – perhaps most notably Meals on Wheels. Beyond that, though, she never hesitates to step up and help anyone in need. I think she might have learned this trait from her mother (my great-grandmother).

Through I never met my great-grandmother, the stories I hear depict a woman I am honored to be descended from. Apparently, they lived near the train tracks in Toledo, Ohio. Whenever weary, homeless, or down on their luck travelers would come by, my great-grandmother would take them in and give them a hot meal. She would even pack a lunch for them to take along as they hopped the train to their next destination.

My grandma learned from the best. And she passed that knack for kindness down to her children and their children (me and my siblings and cousins).

On Humor:

I truly don’t think I know anybody funnier than my grandmother. She has the most sensible humor. Sometimes, it’s a simple glance – think the way Jim looks at the camera in the early seasons of the Office. Sometimes, it’s a sly (but polite) side remark. Sometimes, it’s just commentary on a story, a television commercial, or a picture in the newspaper.

My grandma showed me tasteful humor and more than that, she taught me how to laugh at myself. For a short spell, I tried to record all the funny little moments in my family (I’ve mentioned that I write down everything, right)?

After recovering the old document, I stumbled upon this one liner from August 22 2015:

Grandma: “Well, I’m going to go change.”

Me: “Why? Grandma, you look great.”

Grandma: *pause* “I could look better.”

*She came back 10 minutes later looking more glam than I’ll ever be.*

On Love:

Perhaps my grandmother embodies nothing more tangibly than such a classic intangible. She is full of love. She has four children and lots of grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren and no matter what state or time zone they are in, she knows how to share and spread love. She never forgets a birthday. She calls on the day before your first day of classes or a new job or whatever big life event to check in. She wants to hear about your accomplishments and she knows how to reassure you when you feel like the world is falling apart.

She is love personified.

Just recently, I was talking to her on the telephone while she visited with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandbaby. We were about to close when she proclaimed, “Well, I really ought to go now, my great-grandchild is waving at me.”

My grandmother exudes a simple grace in everything she does. In my life I hope I can live out friendships like hers. I aspire to share kindness everywhere I go. I aim to find ways to laugh at myself and share the wonder of laughter with other.

But most importantly, I want to love with everything in me – just like my grandma.

Happy 85th birthday.

I love you.

Love always,


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