Five Life Lessons from My Grandmother

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If you follow ThisBigHappy over on Facebook you probably know that it’s been a heck of a week for my family. If not, let me fill you in.

On March 8 my husband traveled 16 hours to take custody of and bring home our daughter. Adjusting to life with a baby has been interesting. It hasn’t been particularly difficult as she is a very agreeable baby and took to us right away, it’s just been interesting. We haven’t had a baby in the house for a long time and it’s taking us a while to get used to the sleepless nights and clothing that constantly smells of baby puke. We’re slowly working into a new routine, these things take time. Considering what baby girl has faced in her few short months I’d say she’s doing pretty well.

Five days after we brought baby home my grandmother passed away at the age of 93. I’m finding it tough to wrap my head around the fact that she is no longer here, so I guess sharing stories about her life is a kind of therapy for me, it helps me accept her passing.

My grandmother was an adventurous woman. She was a world traveler, brave, no-nonsense, loving, generous…before I get too sappy, here is a list of lessons my grandmother left me with.

five life lessons from my grandmother

1. Start small & trade up, but don’t get more than you need – When Jason & I were in the process of purchasing our first house I remember my grandmother saying something like “Too many people want their first house to be their dream home. You need to start small and trade up to bigger and better houses, but you never want more than you need because that’s just empty space you have to pay for.”

When we closed on that house we called her first with the news. And we’ve stuck to her advice, even downsizing once our “bigger & better” became too big.

2. Frugality pays! Gramma was 11 years old when the stock market crashed and The Great Depression began. Gramma knew a thing or two about how to make a dollar last.

One of my favorite comfort meals is hers: Brown a pound of ground beef and boil a box of noodles. Drain each and put them into a skillet with a wee bit of oil for about 5 minutes, allow the pasta to brown a little bit. My dad & I eat it with ketchup but my uncle pours a can of creamed corn over his.

3. Plan for the future, way into the future. Gramma saw to it that she would have enough to pay her way until she was in her mid-90s. From the purchase of savings bonds to nursing home insurance, gramma never wanted to be a financial burden to her children.

4. Family is first, spend time making memories with them. Gramma helped finance our first trip to Disney World. She took her grandchildren on awesome solo vacations. She didn’t drive and lived two hours away but she found a way to come to our band concerts, piano recitals, & holiday celebrations. And when we wanted to talk to her all we had to do was pick up the phone, even though it was long-distance.

Gramma told me once that she loved traveling but didn’t have a chance to travel much until World War Two, when her husband was in the Army. Her childhood vacations were usually camping trips, and they even had to make their own mattresses from cloth sacks and hay.

5. Everything in moderation. One of my favorite memories of Gramma took place in Alaska, on a cruise ship. We were sitting in a lounge before dinner (I was all of 16, LOL!) and she ordered a High Ball. I had never really seen my grandmother drink, I guess I gave her a funny look. She nodded at her drink and said “purely medicinal”. It’s still one of my favorite lines when I pour myself a glass of wine in the evening.

I’m going to miss my grandmother but she’ll never really be gone, will she?

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2 thoughts on “Five Life Lessons from My Grandmother

  • Heidi

    Your Grandma was ADORABLE! I especially love that picture of her in the lavender sweater and pearls. I just want to reach into the picture and hug her! And, in addition to good looks, it sounds like she was smart and classy too. I’m so sorry for your loss, but thrilled that you had so much time with her and learned so much!

  • Linda

    What a nice tribute to your Grandmother. I had the privilege and honor of knowing her for 60+ years as she was my favorite aunt. One of the last times I saw her was at your place when you were living in Ga. about 8 years ago. She was a cool aunt and she will be missed.