Other Stuff

Wisdom From My Grandparents (And Why Saving Old School Papers Can Be Important)

** This is a story I published in April 2012, shortly after my Grammy died from a battle with lung cancer. At that time, I was preparing to take my students to sing in New York City. As we prepare for that trip again, she is in the forefront of my heart. How I miss her laugh, her hugs, and her soft hands.**

I am a sentimental pack rat! I have saved all of my important projects and papers from school… ticket stubs, programs, photos, news clippings. I could tell you my life story from boxes in the basement. But this week, the impact of a project I did in 6th grade hit me right in the heart.

In the spring of 1990, my sixth grade language teacher made her students do a project called “All About My Grandparents” where we interviewed our grandparents about their lives and were given creative writing prompts about them. I had written a set of 50 questions for my grandparents and one of my great grandparents to answer. I saved that book in my collection of things. I could never have imagined in 6th grade that the book would come to mean so much to me. Each of my grandparents took the time to lovingly write pages and pages of stories and wisdom, which exceeded the expectations of my teacher. Reading those pages in the wake of losing my Grammy this week both hurts my heart and makes me feel blessed beyond belief!

I keep reading her words over and over, trying to memorize her face and her smell while they still linger in my mind. It’s almost as if I am still sitting at the dining room table holding her hand and talking to her. There is one response I keep reading a lot. I wanted to share it with all of you, especially my family… I hope you are as blessed by it as I am.

Question: What advice and concerns do you have to share with me? Why do you love me?

Life doesn’t owe you a thing, Jenny. It is a gift. You will get from it exactly what you put into it. Don’t waste it waiting for good things to come to you. They won’t. If you have a dream, you must go after it. You have all the opportunity in the world to go after anything you desire. You having loving parents who support and encourage you. They’ll help you all they can. You have good schools and the ability to learn. Education is the vehicle to get you almost anywhere you desire. STUDY! STUDY! STUDY! Learn as much as your brain can absorb. Most important honey- don’t forget who gave you this gift of life, because I believe no matter what you do or where you go in life, it will be empty and meaningless if Christ is not your personal savior and does not share your life. When you fail at something- and you will- don’t give up. Step back- study the situation and try a new route. You can do it. I heard a really good point once on a commericial. It said “The last words in American are I CAN!”

I see a lot of things I strongly disapprove of and they frighten me. Not for myself. I’m pretty secure in my life. I don’t mean financially, but as a person. I have never bowed to peer pressure and I don’t worry about pleasing anyone now. My husband still loves me and still loves to look at me after 33 years. So I’m really fortunate. And most important, Jenny, I’m never alone. I AM THE CHILD OF A KING. He is with me always no matter what happens to me. He is with me. What can harm me?

I worry for my children and you- my grandchildren. I’m sure that every generation has shared some fears in one form or another. But today the world seems so unkind and self-centered. I want- me- mine. Where’s the love and caring about each other? Where’s the values? Where’s the pride in doing something well, just to do it well? Not to compete or get paid for it. What happened to looking into someone’s eyes when they’re talking to you? What happened to really hearing what they’re saying to you?

Why do I love you? That’s hard to put into words. Why did I love my own babies when they were still in the womb? I think love is an involuntary emotion. You just do. You are my first grandchild. All my first experiences as a grandmother have been given to me by you. Buying and making you baby clothes before you were born. Holding you close when you came home from the hospital. Smelling your neck. Hearing you say abble (apple.) Watcing your head wobble as you held it up to look at the pretty bed spread (cross eyed.) Seeing you in your Easter bonnet and white gloves. Watching you walk with your bottle hanging out of your mouth swinging to and fro. Watching you come running to me on a crowded street, with your little arms outstretched screaming “Grammy! Grammy!” Oh the pride I felt. And today seeing the beautiful young lady you’ve become… I would love you if you had one orange eye and one red eye and purlple freckles. I JUST LOVE YOU!


Oh Grammy, how my heart still aches missing you. You were one of the most brave, wise, and beautiful women I have ever known. Thank you for loving me.

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