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.
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?