Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Life Lessons from Grandma by Cathy Shouse

We’re coming off of International Women’s Day on March 8th, which has me thinking about my grandma. In my eyes, she exemplified a strong woman every day. Not sure what she would think of setting one day aside to celebrate women. 

 My paternal grandma’s been gone for more than two decades. But I continue to be inspired by her. Her ideas are ingrained in me. One of my aunts regularly puts Grandma’s diary entries on Facebook so that keeps her fresh in my mind as well. She was industrious into her 80s and beyond. She lived to be well over one hundred years-old. 

 The following are some snippets about Grandma. In my family, we all have different stories she told us and these are mine. They’re not in any particular order, just things she said that have stuck with me. 

 Grandma was from a rural area of Indiana yet she was a working woman, starting at age 16. That’s when she taught her first piano student. She taught lessons only when her father didn’t need the family horse since that was her transportation. With her first “paycheck,” she asked her brother what she should buy and he said “a Kodak,” so she did. 

 She’d studied the piano for years by the time she started teaching, and was a disciplined student. After she taught me to play, I inherited some of her music and realized she played very difficult pieces from a young age. She had so much music that grandpa built her a music cabinet, which I have in my home. 

 Morning glories grew in her back yard. As a girl, I found the way the blooms opened up each day fascinating. For some reason, I consider them part of her life philosophy. In the dictionary, this flower is described as “unfailingly cheerful.” 

 Grandma was devoted to her family and to making us all strong and hearty, specifically. She told me many times that our family had a “strong constitution.” It’s surprising how often I’ve thought of that over the years when faced with challenges. “You can get through this. You have a strong constitution.” A widow for more than thirty years, Grandma had also lost a baby who was six weeks old. I don’t remember her complaining or discussing hardships. 

Today, it seems we are a sharing society, I often think an oversharing one. As I write this, I wonder if it’s okay to put these stories about Grandma on the internet. Would she approve? 

 Sometimes when I communicate, I will think that I’m like the old Saturday Night Live characters named Wendy and Doug Whiner. Their whole persona was complaining about things in a nasal tone. 

 Grandma had standards and she never let up on those. Once when she was in her 90s, I played her organ for her, although I really didn’t know how to work a pump organ. But there was no piano in her independent living apartment. When finished, I asked how I had done. She said I had played “choppy.” 

Once in his 70s, my dad had lunch on his birthday with grandma, his mother, at her facility. He came home grumbling that at his age, he shouldn’t have to endure a lecture on eating his spinach. Dad hated spinach. She was a woman of faith but I don’t remember her really talking about her beliefs. Her Bible would just be laying open many times when I came to visit. She played many old hymns and played for church services.
Grandma taught me that often it’s what we tell ourselves that matters. And that starts with what others tell us about ourselves, which we then internalize. I’m grateful she contributed to some of the positive tapes in my head. 

 I sometimes wonder what people will remember about my words after I’m gone. I really hope it’s not me complaining about my cable bill. (It’s way too high.) How has your family inspired you in their words or behaviors? Do you think about how your words might boost others?


  1. I loved this, Cathy. It made me think of my grandmothers. One was the caretaker and caregiver, the other one who always needed care, and yet they were both strong in their own ways.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Liz. I don't know where I'd be without my grandma because she filled so many hours of my childhood with happy memories.

  3. You reminded me of my own grandmother, my mom's mother. She had a lot of sayings. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything." "It's better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you're dumb than to open it and prove it." "If wishes were fishes, then we'd have a big fry." "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride." She was superstitious. The only time she got mad at me was when I opened an umbrella in her house. She said that would cause trouble to rain down on those in the house. She was 92 when she died.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Caroline. I wonder if different parts of the country have different sayings. I know the "if you can't say something nice" one and about "keeping your mouth shut." The were not used around me. Hope this brought back good memories. :)

  4. Lovely story. My parents were older when they had me, and I missed out on the whole grandparent thing. My mother was the strong woman in my life and the catalyst for writing my first book. In spite of being the oldest child of an alcoholic and dealing with the baggage that comes with that, she managed to tell of her life in a wistful romantic way, seemingly remembering mostly the best parts. When I would ask her to tell me about the "good old days" she would always say "We are living them right now"

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Sherri. You've told about your mother so well. What a gift to "tell of her life in a wistful romantic way," and dwell on the best parts. If only more of us would do that. :)


Thank you for commenting on Smart Girls Read Romance. We love readers and love their comments. We apologize that due to a few unethical spammers we've had to institute comment moderation. Please be patient with us... we DO want your genuine comments!