Beautiful Day

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Life-Giving Grandmother

"...Lifegiving should be a lifestyle and a lifetime ministry, which is both a path to feminine maturity and a source of wisdom to pass down to the next generation of women."
 ~Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman

My grandmother is 92 years old.  She is my last living grandparent.  Grandpa has been gone for over ten years now.  I don't get to see Grandma very often, but I treasure the times I still get to visit with her.  One such occasion happened just recently.  She is still living in her home of nearly 50 years and it looks just like it did when I was a little girl.  She was perfectly delighted to see the great-grandchildren and to meet Littlest Warrior.

This woman is a model to me of what it means to be a life-giver as a woman.  She raised life above mere existence every time that I saw her.  When I was a young girl, we saw her very often as we didn't live too far away.  As I grew and we moved farther away, I didn't get to see her as often.  But every time I did, it was greatly anticipated.  I treasured the times we got to stay overnight at her house.  We would wake up to the smells and sounds of breakfast cooking, which usually included some delicious fruit coffeecake.  I think she must have constantly been making food (like I do now!) and she did it with such joy.  We all sit around and laugh now about how much food they would try to offer us--it was just Grandma and Grandpa's way of blessing others and giving them life.

I learned some traditions from her that I have continued just to have the continuity of generations (and because I like them and they will always make me think of her).  For example, at Easter we make a 3-dimensional lamb cake.  I can't remember a year without one as a little girl.  My grandma had this beautiful cast-iron mold that I tried and tried to find one like in my adult years, but I didn't want to pay the price antique dealers wanted for one.  Imagine my delight when she gave me hers!  This was after she had spent well over 50 years making them every single year (and usually more than one for each family of grandchildren).  She is Roman Catholic and I believe this is a tradition from her Polish roots that went along with the blessing of the baskets at Easter-time.

Then there were the butter cookies--those delicious, melt-in-the-mouth, shortbread-like morsels with the beautiful cookie stamp designs on them. She has since gifted me with several cookie stamps and we make these once a year.

She has always loved children and at 92 she still delights in interacting with them.  I want to be like her in the way she makes children smile and so enjoy being with her.  It seems so many people nowadays get older and don't want to or don't have the patience to be around children.

Every holiday was surrounded with joy when Grandma and Grandpa were part of it.  They used to arrange phone calls from Santa Claus on their old dial phone (and we fully believed it was real!)  One year I had the chicken pox in December and then my siblings got them--right during Christmas!  This meant no visit to Grandma's for Christmas and I can remember being so VERY disappointed.

Tea parties and games on the kitchen table I will never forget--the laughter, the warm cup of tea with a little milk and sugar, looking out at the radio tower lights in the distance from their window.  So many warm memories because she spoke life into me just by her acts of kindness and the time spent for and with me.  She also gave life with her words and still does--she always encourages me.

Now when we visit her we soak in all of her stories as much as possible.  There are almost always stories about World War II.  She also told us about the first time she saw an airplane....about the old days of Chicago when there were rarely cars but many more peddler she and her sister would sneak rides on the backs of those her mother would have them scoop up after the horses to have fertilizer for the garden.....about how strict the nuns were in her school if they found out you went to see the movies during Lent.  I really wish I had some means of capturing these on audio file.  But for now I am writing them down.


I often think about what it will be like when I reach "grandma-hood."  I think it is sad that in our present culture so many women raise their children and consider their job "done" and then go back to work or their own pursuits, having little time to invest in their grandchildren.  A true multi-generational legacy must have grandmothers (and grandparents) who see the bigger picture and understand that they do indeed have a role in investing in the lives of their future generations for the glory of God.  There are many Scriptural exhortations in this regard.  I have a dear friend whom I remember saying that she keeps a journal of all the things she wants to remember to tell herself to do (and not do) and be like when she is a grandma.  I have done this a little.  I do want to remember such lessons.  When I get there, I hope that I will be like my life-giving Grandma.  I am blessed to still be receiving life from her example.
"We need only have one care--that we live well our one short life as we go on, that we love God and our neighbor, that we believe on Christ and obey his commandments, that we do each duty as it comes to our hand, and do it well.  Then no sudden coming of the end will ever surprise us unprepared.  Then, while glad to live as long as it may be God's will to leave us here, we shall welcome the gentle angel who comes with the golden joy to lead us to rest and home."
~J.R. Miller, The Home Beautiful 


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