I had one lovely friend ask me who I would spend a day with if I could. This has had me pondering for many days now. I have thought of historical figures and narrowed those down to a few. If I were seeking perspective and vast chunks of knowledge or wisdom, it would have to be someone like Corrie TenBoom or Abraham Lincoln. Obvious answers seemed to be a couple folks from the Bible. But I kept trying to think outside of the box and really dig for the right person. Try as I might, I kept coming back to three women and each of them happen to be my own grandmothers.
None of them led what any outsider would consider remarkable lives. But these three have left me with questions that I would certainly wave a magic wand about to have an afternoon and a cuppa something or other over which to pick their brains and gain understanding. This should serve to prove a point I think is screaming to be made to see our older generations as valuable and take the time to remember that they have much to teach us.
I’ve had some awarenesses lately that time is a thing that evens us all out. Once we were all kids trying to figure out these adults in our lives, and then somehow, we all become adults — peers on some level. We become peers of sorts with our own kids, our parents, and our grandparents — all adults trying to find our way at different stages along the road. With this comes such respect to those who have done it all well, and their wisdom is invaluable. And also some signposts about wrong turns that also help us along our journeys!
I wish I could sit with my Grandma LaValley who seemed to get lost in the shuffle. She had a reputation for being a tough mother, a giggly and sweet older woman, and an obsessive cleaner. But I know for a fact that she went through some STUFF! And I would love to talk to her woman-to-woman about how she FELT through the family stories I’ve heard, and even as little girl growing up during the Depression.
I didn’t really know my Grandma Way. She and my mother didn’t really hit it off and my grandma was in her forties when my dad was born so she was in her 70’s when I was born. She passed away when I was ten and I didn’t see her many times in that decade. She remains a mystery to me and I would love a couple days to know what made her tick. Her dad came over from the Netherlands (maybe when she was a small girl). What she must have experienced in her lifetime!
The grandma I got the most time with was Christian’s Grandma Dollie, but what I wouldn’t give for a whole day to just make sure I said all the things and asked all of the questions. She went to Jesus a couple years ago now, and we all miss her terribly. She and I seem to have similar paths in many ways and it was a huge and satisfying life thing for this girl that someone got me. Someone else cherished her home and children and grandkids and food preparation and preservation the way that I do. She loved her husband, and was fiercely devoted to making every single person that she loved feel seen and noticed. She was real and honest and full of wisdom and encouragement. She was classy and yet not caught up in appearance in a way that spoke to vanity. She always had kind words for everyone, but there were times her vehemence for a wrong idea or behavior would be made known! She didn’t sit idly well at all. When she would come stay up here, if left to herself, she’d grab a broom and go outside and sweep the porch or do dishes rather than be still. All of the grandkids loved her genuinely and felt the most loved by her. This woman made a scrapbook filled with photos and newspaper clippings of sports and marked moments all the way up to engagements and weddings for each of her MANY grandkids. She was famous for her apple pies that were awe-inspiring. She passed many recipes to me, and they are one of my most cherished possessions — written in her own handwriting.
She and I wrote letters to each other. Not much made my heart happier than a wordy, information-filled letter penned carefully in her beautiful cursive arriving in my mailbox. She filled them with news of the family, praise for each of us, funny little tidbits about food she enjoyed, and admonishments mixed with thanks for gifts we’d sent. I’d send some of my plum jam, and she’d praise me while telling me not to give away my hard work. :o) I still have a jar of canned hot peppers she shared with me that she grew in the garden. The food-hoarder in me meets strongly with the sentimental side and says we can never open that jar.
I asked my husband about his favorite thoughts regarding his grandmother. Of course, I hear them all the time. The way she always made him pancakes and snuggled him on the couch while they watched baseball at the farm. How she helped him every time he was hurt or got into some trouble like poison ivy. Each time he hears an old song from the 40’s, he smiles and remembers his sweet grandma singing while she worked.
But most of all, he said she had a way of making him feel like he mattered in the world.
Is there a greater legacy to leave? She was the first one to openly acknowledge the understanding of why our family legacy would begin here in this new place. She bought me sheet music at estate sales. She spent time talking with and sharing with my children. She did a million things, but mostly, she made sure each and every person felt beautiful, cherished, seen, and loved. I have about 40 more years to strive to accomplish what she did, and it’s a tall order. But I surely intend to do my best to surrender this heart of mine to the same God that created the thing of beauty that is Dollie Kirksey.
Who would you love to spend a day with? Does this remind you, as it does myself, to have some conversations with some folks you love and admire and make sure they feel seen and matter?