Those of you who know me well are probably aware of just how very much my grandmother meant to my life. She was my rock, my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and the person who molded me into the person I am today.
If you read my blog for a while, you’ve probably already read or seen the bulk of this post in the past. I originally wrote it as a tribute back in 2005. Nothing has really changed since I originally wrote it, and I’ve just kind of gotten in the habit of reposting each year on her birthday.
My Gran would have turned 102 years old today if she were still with us. Sadly, she’s now been gone for 9 years, but there’s still not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about her and miss having her in my life. For those who might be curious, yes, this is the same grandmother for whom I got my tribute tattoo as a memorial.
So, without further adieu, here is my report of my tribute to my Gran.
Until next time …
Today was a sad day in many ways for me, yet also a day of wonderfully fond memories. Today would have been my grandmother’s 95th birthday if she were still living. It was sad because she has been gone now for just over 2 years and I miss her terribly, but it was a good day as well as I focused on the memories of the things I admired about her. In honor of her memory, I have chosen to blog about her, and my love for her, today.
What can you say about someone who is, by far, the most remarkable human being you have ever known? How do you put into words a love that leaves one feeling completely safe, protected, and cherished? How do you convey to someone who never knew a person how much better the world was, even if just her own small corner of it, just for this person having lived? Well, that person was my grandmother, or Gran, as I called her.
As you may have realized by now, I adored my grandmother. In so many ways, she was as much my mother (or moreso, perhaps) than was my own actual mother. I was very fortunate to have grown up living right next door to my paternal grandparents, so I spent a LOT of time there. I would usually get off the school bus at their house in the afternoon and didn’t usually go home until after dinner (or “supper” as she would call it).
Some of my earliest recollections from my childhood involve being with my grandmother. She began teaching me at a very early age the importance of considering others and their needs. She helped me clearly see that what we NEED versus what we WANT are two vastly different things. She truly instilled in me the philanthropic nature that still burns strongly within me to this day.
I remember standing on a stool in the kitchen helping her cook as she prepared meals for others who were sick, home-bound, or had experienced a death in their family. I remember going out with her daily to collect the eggs from the chicken coop so that not only our family had eggs, but that others in the community who needed them would also have eggs. I remember watching her spend hour after grueling hour over a hot stove in a kitchen with no air conditioning during the Tennessee late summer humidity as she would can fruits & vegetables. Again, not only for our own family, but to give to others as they had need as well. Of course, whenever anyone would try to pay her, she would always just tell them to not worry about it and to just do something nice for someone else and that was payment enough for her.
She was born in a rural area of Middle Tennessee on September 27, 1910. She was the second of nine children having 4 brothers and 4 sisters. She graduated as Valedictorian of her high school class. Admittedly, there were only 3 students, but she was still Valedictorian.
She began dating my grandfather after high school. They dated for several years before they were actually able to be married (due to the Great Depression). They married on June 16, 1935. About 18 months after they were married, my aunt was born with my dad following two years later.
Even though my grandmother never had any “formal” post-secondary education, she was constantly learning and was a voracious reader. It was a VERY rare day that she missed watching Jeopardy, and most of the time she could answer virtually all of the questions. As a result, she instilled a thirst for knowledge within me as well. She helped me believe that I could be or do anything I wanted to do in life as long as I studied and worked for it.
The year I was born, my grandmother began writing a column for the local newspaper in the county where she lived. She continued writing that weekly column up until just a few weeks prior to her death in August 2003. She would share news of the community and her love of nature though her words. I don’t think anyone could describe hummingbirds or flowers more beautifully. She would always send out condolences and get well wishes to those in need, and she would always end her column each week with a comment or philosophy about life and the blessing of it. Here is a scan of the heading that appeared each week over her column:
She had a wonderfully witty sense of humor and always had a smile on her face. Well, that is, unless you were trying to take her photograph. It was virtually impossible to get her to smile then. I don’t want to even think about how many times it probably took them to get that smiling photo above of her for the newspaper!
She loved hummingbirds, growing flowers (roses, iris, daffodils, and African violets), and watching the turning of the leaves in the autumn. She loved working crossword puzzles, watching Johnny Carson, sewing, reading poetry, and watching University of Tennessee football games. She never learned to drive. She was horribly afraid of flying even though she had never stepped foot on a plane. She hated elevators and basements. Her smile could light up a room, and her laughter was infectious.
I don’t believe I can remember a time in my life when she would meet someone new that she didn’t tell them within 5-10 minutes of meeting her to “just call me Gran,” and everyone always did. There truly were no strangers in her life because she made a friend with everyone she met. She truly was the epitome of “Southern Hospitality” at it’s finest.
Lastly, one of the greatest memories I have was her love for me. She is still one of only a couple of people that I have known in my entire life from whom I felt TRUE unconditional love. I always knew that no matter what I did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, etc., that her love for me was always going to be there and would be unwavering. She didn’t always approve of the choices I made in my life (like my blue hair phase or moving to California), but she NEVER stopped loving me and I knew that without question. She is still, to this day, the most remarkable, intelligent, compassionate, and beautiful woman I have ever had the joy & pleasure of knowing.
I miss you horribly, Gran, and think of you daily! I always have and always will love you!