I just found out that my co-worker’s grandmother just died. She was – understandably – wrecked and had to leave work. Today, we are all sharing thoughts with her to show support and it got me thinking about my own grandmothers and what I learned from them:
- Always have a good time. My maternal grandmother was a party girl – my earliest memories of her revolve around entertaining: hams, turkeys, bloody marys, smoking and swing music. While my mother has a different view of things, to me it was always an environment of joy, celebration and friendship. The warmth she exuded while entertaining was the same whether the house was full of people or just the two of us. Either way, she taught me that it’s important to have fun with the people you love.
- If all else fails, make fudge. My paternal grandmother was not the warm and fuzzy type. She was serious, cranky and distant…we had very little in common. But we still managed to connect on a very basic level: she made the best fudge ever. She may not have been able to hug and snuggle me, but that fudge let me know how much she loved me. (That and her mac ‘n cheese…yum…)
- A place of refuge. When I was in college, times were tough for my family; we were going through a lot. I didn’t know or understand the extent of things, but I did know that my parents had a series of difficult decisions and there was a lot of stress. My grandmother stepped in with the option for me to live with her. She wasn’t one for heart-to-hearts, but she offered me a place to decompress and process in peace.
- Music is important. With both grandmothers, music played a role in our relationships. At both houses, there was always music in the background (my paternal grandfather was a drummer in a Dixieland band). When we would arrive at my grandmother’s house, she would direct us upstairs to “put on your suits” and go get into the pool – she had an old “boom box” that she’d put in the window from the kitchen and blast swing music while we swam. They were both one-woman audiences for all our shows and musicals. They taught me songs that I sing to my own children.
I am under no delusion that my grandmothers were perfect, or that they were even good mothers. But they were important people in my life, people who offered support, guidance, a way out and love…to me, they are wonderful foundational pieces of my childhood and my adulthood. I thank them for all they were capable of giving and for giving it – I think that might be the most important lesson: giving something is better than giving nothing…the smallest things can end up being bigger than you’d ever think possible!
– Libby Bingham