Somebody told me recently that I was very much like my paternal grandmother. I basked in the compliment. I adored my grandmother and cherish the memories of her. She was a tough little Irishwoman who overcame much in her life. Was she perfect? Well….yes, I think she was.
We had a conversation recently about grandparents and grandchildren and what makes a good relationship. One grandmother I know was lamenting the fact that her grandchildren never come to visit her. Honestly – I don’t blame them. As soon as you walk in her door, she’s asking you to do things for her and starts in on stories about the awful people who live around her. Is that to say that we stop visiting the elderly when they get crotchety? Heavens no – but if given a choice, why would her grandkids come?
What made my grandmother different? Relationship. She took time to get to know me. She talked WITH me and did things she knew would please me. I respected her so much that I hung on every word she said and felt privileged to be allowed to share in her stories. To make her laugh was the highest honor of all.
Grandma was diabetic, but not insulin dependent. This was before the onslaught of sugar free foods, so her “dietetic gelatin” was about her only treat. It wasn’t good. She had a dairy guy that drove to the house each week, delivering milk, ice cream, etc. He carried, in my opinion, the world’s best cherry vanilla ice cream. So in his visit just before she knew we were to arrive, Grandma always got a half gallon of that ice cream. I knew, without a doubt, when I got to her house it would be in the freezer. I also knew the carton would be opened and there would be little pock marks on the surface where she picked out the top layer of cherries. Of course we chided her about the sugar intake and she gave us the innocent “I don’t know how that happened” face…. Somehow all that made that ice cream taste even better.
I stayed with her one week when she got out of a hospital visit. I was too young to drive, so meal preparation got rather interesting. One supper, I found a can of potatoes in her cabinet and some hot dogs in her fridge. I sliced the potatoes and the dogs and fried them up together in a type of hash. Oh my word. You’d think I’d’ve created a new culinary classic or something. I heard raves about that meal the rest of her life.
I think it was a combination of things that made our relationship so good. My Dad adored her, and that attitude passed on to me. My Grandma loved me and I felt it. She cared about me and my opinion and what was happening in my life. She was grateful for everything we did and never stopped giving to us. I feel really sorry for those kids who don’t ever visit their grandma. There’s still a treasure trove of memories and history in there waiting to be tapped, even if there’s a lot of crotchety standing in the way.
I’ve set this in my heart to remember when my grandkids come to visit. I want them to want to come. I want them to not want to leave. I want them to talk, and I want them to want to listen.
And I really hope they like cherry vanilla ice cream….