The other day I began thinking about my grandmothers.  I only remember three of them; my great-grandmother and grandmother on my father’s side, and my grandmother on my mother’s side. 

I don’t remember much about my great-grandmother.  My family went to see her not long before she died.  She was lying in bed with one bare foot sticking out from under the covers.  I remember going to her funeral (I was 4 or 5 years old and the first funeral I attended.)  I saw people crying, so I cried too because it seemed to be a very sad occasion. 

My two grandmothers; what a contrast!  One lived on the farm and the other lived in the city. 

The city grandmother, who was born 1888 and died in 1963, was raised in the Victorian era tradition.  Her father was a medical doctor.  Grandma W always dressed neatly.  When she left her house, she was sure to have on her hat and gloves, and depending on the weather, a suitable coat.    

She taught me how to set the dinner table making sure everything was in its proper place.  She had individual salt and pepper shakers at each setting.  And, when we congregated at the table, we all stood behind our chairs until all of us were at the table and we sat down together.     

She was the author of many poems; some published.  She loved to read and debate.  Grandma W was a stubborn woman.  My mother said she would ‘argue with a fence post’ just for the sake of arguing.  

I am grateful to Grandma W for teaching me etiquette.  Like the proper way to hold a teacup and which silverware to use in what order and waiting to eat until all had come to the table.  I am grateful that she taught me how to dress with as much elegance as possible, although there was little money for fine clothes. 

But, I don’t remember Grandma W holding my hand, or rocking me, although she probably did.  I was never close to her as I was to my other grandmother. 

The country grandmother, who was born in 1888 and died in 1984 was also raised in the Victorian era, but living on a farm left little time for ‘fanciness’.  Grandma O usually wore a house dress that sometimes needed mending.  She wore dress oxfords with her stockings rolled down around her ankles.  Her ankles and feet were swollen most of the time perhaps from arthritis. She worked hard on the dairy farm she and Grandpa owned.  

Grandma O had a good sense of humor even if the joke was on her.  She loved all her children and grandchildren.  I have fond memories of this grandmother, and she was an influence for good in my life.  I remember her holding me in her lap and carrying me in her arms, when I burnt my hands.  I don’t remember the details how they got burned, but Grandma was there to comfort.  I also remember her spanking me.  I forget what the offense was but I’m certain I deserved the discipline.  Grandma O was a praying woman, and involved in the local Methodist church.  When there was a community gathering of some sort, Grandma was usually called upon to recite a poem.  She was also a violin player.  Grandma O was an excellent cook.  In her later years, she would bake yeast rolls to sell at the local country store.  She was still driving her car when in her early 90’s.  

I could write more about both of these grandmothers, but the point to this remembering is how they both influenced my life.  

Parents and grandparents can impact and influence our lives for good or bad.  The difference is that grandparents most likely have more wisdom and more patience.  They’ve been down the ‘raising children’ road and the wisdom they acquired during those years should be passed on to the next generations.  Sadly, in this mobile and fragmented society that does not always happen.  Families move away from parents, and those people in the community who could lend aid and support during the difficult times are unknown even if in the same neighborhood.  

My own family is stretched out over several states.  We don’t get to see one another as often as I’d like.  Although my grandsons lived in a neighboring city when they were growing up, because of the busy-ness of their life, I was not around them as much as I would like.  I don’t think I influenced their lives as much as my grandmothers influenced mine.  

 So, if you have children, and your parents are close, take time to let them get to know their grandparents.  It will add enrichment to their lives and perhaps create fond memories for all.  

Final thought:  If you are estranged from your family, remember this; life is just too darn short to continue carrying a grudge.

Be Blessed

Jane Owens

© 2013

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