Both of my grandmas taught me many life lessons as I grew up and I was so very lucky that they were both with me until I had my own children.
Grandma Is (my mom’s mom) was a kind, soft-spoken woman whom I spent a lot of time with as I was growing up. I would go to her house after school thru elementary and middle school and also spent many summer days with her.
Grandma Is is the one that taught me to sew. We went to the hobby store and bought a book with a pattern for making different clowns. My plan was to make one of these clowns for Lisa. She patiently taught me how to thread the machine and follow the pattern properly, explaining all the details that I would need to know. We also needed to hand sew a few parts and so she also taught me how to make different types of stitches and knots to successfully make the clown. I wish I had a picture of that clown, but I know she must’ve taught me well because I later made those same clowns for my dorm room about 10 years later for my roommate and me.
Another thing Grandma Is taught me was how to wrap presents. As a child, I was given an allowance to go and buy Christmas presents for the family. I would take the presents to Grandma’s house and there she had a card table set up in the spare bedroom with all the necessary supplies. She taught me how to measure the paper correctly and crease the corners to make a beautiful package. As I learned this skill at the age of 9, I’m amazed at how many adults still don’t know how to nicely wrap packages and just use gift bags instead!
There are so many other things that I learned from Grandma Is, like how to play cards and Yahtzee and how to bake the family Christmas cookies and how to give a manicure, to just name a few, but I also learned how to speak kindly to others. Words, once spoken, can’t be taken back. It was during college and we were sitting at the Christmas breakfast table. She looked at me and said, “Boy – you’ve gained a little weight.” I was mortified and strongly said “I don’t have to take this!!” and left the table. Dad must not have been at the table yet as I don’t remember being hollered at by him for talking to Grandma like this, but I remember that my outburst made Grandma cry. That was the worst feeling. I’ve often thought about that time and still feel bad that I hurt Grandma’s feelings by talking to her that way. I may not always talk kindly to others, but to this day, I remember that day and the lesson I learned.
Grandma Doris (my dad’s mom), on the other hand, was a short, stocky, sarcastic woman who loved to tease and joke. I didn’t spend nearly as much time with Grandma Doris as I did Grandma Is, but she still taught me a lot simply by her actions.
Family was important and helping them was just as important. Grandma Doris was always available if you needed help with something. I remember her frequently coming over to the house to help mom with some kind of task, be it cleaning, gardening, or anything. She once got stopped by the police as she was coming over to our house and when asked why she was going so fast, she told the officer that she was headed to her daughter-in-laws house to mop the floors. She got off with a warning.
Something I’ve learned from both of my wonderful grandmas was that you make time for family. If they need you, you will be there. From babysitting to decorating dorm rooms and houses – anytime you needed them, they were always willing to help. I can only hope that when I become a grandma – I will be as wonderful as both of them – and as loved.