Yesterday, my amazing grandmother lost her battle with cancer. Losing a grandparent isn’t something you can truly prepare for, and coping is a learned process. One thing that has helped sustain me is remembering our special times together. I think of the years of playing paper dolls, the endless trips to the park, walking to Dairy Queen, the stories she’d make up for me….it was a wonderful childhood.I am so grateful that our memories remain. Cancer can’t touch our past experiences. The memories of our loved ones live on – and keep us going. The stories, funny anecdotes, and lessons they passed on help us work through our grief and maintain the legacy our loved one left behind.
I’ve been thinking about all the little things I learned from my grandma – things I learned from her example, her way of life…Some of the lessons are small – others more profound. She taught me many things, and I wanted to share my list with you.
Thank you Grandma. Until we meet again.
There is JOY in the simple things.
*My grandma LOVED coffee. In the last month of her life, the simple act of going out for a cup of coffee made her so happy. We so often think we need big elaborate things to make us happy. We spend so much time looking for the “next big thing” that we miss the simple pleasures all around us. Find joy in the small things. The small things end up being the big things.
Take a walk as often as possible. Walk every day if you can.
*My grandma never got her driver’s license, but she didn’t let that keep her at home. Grandma walked EVERY day – and not just around the block – she’d walk for miles. Walking was not only a great form of exercise for her, but was good for her mental health as well. There’s just something about a walk that clears your head and makes problems seem smaller.
Always have a bowl of nuts or candy out for your guests.
*I can’t ever remember a time when Grandma didn’t have a bowl of treats out for guests. It was a bowl of nuts in their shell with a nutcracker or spiced gumdrops when I was younger. As she got older, she began to put out things like Hershey’s kisses and mixed nuts. A bowl of treats helps make your guests feel at home. It’s the little touches.
Hard work makes way for beautiful things
*Aside from her family, my grandma loved flowers. She spent hours keeping her many (many!) flower beds weeded and perfectly maintained. It was back-breaking work, but clearing those beds of all of the weeds, and taking the tedious steps to prevent them from coming back, made way for the most beautiful yard. So often, the good things take work. Great things don’t usually come easily – but they’re worth working for, and worth our effort. She knew how to make beautiful things.
Find a way to use your artistry/talent to serve God -no matter what that talent is.
*My grandma was a florist by trade and made a fresh centerpiece for the front of her church every week for many years. There is always a way to use your strengths and gifts to serve your Creator.
Go all out to celebrate the holidays and changing seasons.
*Grandma decorated for EVERY holiday and every changing season. It was magical, and really made each time of year feel special and important. From the interior and exterior decor to the special treats, she really made each time of year extra-special.
Make a fuss over gifts received – from a child’s drawing to a fancy necklace. Ooh and ahh. Squeal. Clap. It makes the giver feel appreciated.
*We’ve all given a gift to someone who barely reacted. It’s deflating. Grandma would always make sure you knew she LOVED whatever it was you were giving her. Grandma made the gift-giving experience special for the giver.
Say YES to a child when you can.
*One memory that sticks out to me, is my grandma frequently letting me order just a side order of gravy from Kentucky Fried Chicken. So many grown-ups would have said no, and made me order chicken. But she said yes. It’s a silly but beautiful reminder that when we CAN say “yes” to a child’s request, say YES. It will make their day.
Find something you and your spouse enjoy doing together.
*My grandparents bickered, but they both loved going to thrift stores. They called Goodwill their “special store.” They went bargain hunting several times a week. It was a simple activity, but one they did together. It wasn’t just their special store, it was their special time together as a couple.
*Grandma gave to a fault. She gave even when their budget and bank account said not to. She was generous and sought out ways to brighten someone’s day. Every time I was sick growing up, she’d bring a bouquet of mylar balloons to my house. She found every reason she could to mail a dollar or two to each of my kids. She acted out of her love language (gifts) in a big way, and set an example of giving generously and cheerfully.
Thank you for all the things you taught me, the memories you left me with, and the 35 years I was blessed to spend with you. Love and miss you Grandma Chris.