Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lessons I Learned from My Grandma

My grandma taught me many things over the years.

She taught me how to cook while I wore my father's childhood apron.  I would be included in making sugar cookies at Christmastime,  rolling out the dough, using cookie cutters, and most importantly, placing the red cinnamon candies on the reindeer for Rudolph's nose.
Gram taught me not to rush, even when I just wanted to finish so I could do the next thing or accomplish the task so it was "done." She taught me that I would be more proud of the finished task if I took my time and did it correctly.
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My grandma and her uncle

Gram taught me how to set a table.  At the family meals, my cousin and I were responsible for setting the table.  Gram had worked in a restaurant while she and Grandpa were dating, so she knew the proper places for the knives, bread plates, glasses, etc.  I still tell myself the little hints about why something goes to the right side and not the left side of the plate.

Gram taught me how to hold my tongue and not speak harshly, even when anger is an appropriate response. I don't do this well, but I will always remember that even when a good scolding was in order-like the time my cousin and I used all of Gram's salt to try to buff some rocks we found around the farm-she didn't yell.  She just said, "One mustn't do that," in a calm voice.

I learned how to love a husband by watching the way my gram loved Grandpa.  In all of my years I never once saw them kiss each other.  I did see tenderness between them though.  Gram never nagged Grandpa, she might express herself, but she always did it respectfully, honoring his decision.  I never heard them argue either.  She loved him very much although I never heard them say, "I love you."  It was evident in every way they served each other throughout the day.  I think Gram's love language was the gift of service.
I learned how to be a lady by watching my gram.  She was a farmer's wife who had many varied tasks on the farm, but she didn't try to be one of the men.  She didn't wear pearls to pick vegetables or cut flowers, but she carried herself with grace and gentleness.

I learned to love the beauty of nature because of Gram.  She had a green thumb that could grow the most amazing gladiolas, mums, peonies, and zinnias.  She grew concord grapes to make into jellies and juice for her family.  She knew how to identify plants by their leaves or flowers and knew what kind of bird it was by its call.

Gram taught me how to live with faith.  Her faith brought her through more trials and difficulties than most know today.  She trusted God when she moved into town at 14, away from the family farm, to be a Mother's Helper, earning money to help her family, and allowing her to go to high school.  She trusted God when she moved from Wisconsin to Illinois to work at a restaurant, again sending money home.  Gram showed amazing faith when due to distance she could not see her mom, with whom she had a deep relationship, as often as she would have liked.
Gram's faith was tested in silent ways, ways she never shared, but the evidence of her deep faith was always visible.  She prayed for her children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren daily.  She trusted God when her husband of 63 years passed away.  She held on to her faith when her son died suddenly.  She didn't speak of these heartaches much, she instead, entrusted God with her pain and He gave her peace, even when it didn't make sense.

I learned how to love from my grandma.  I learned that love is something that is best given in secret, quiet ways.  Not given with the desire for credit or attention, but instead given with the desire to show the receiver he or she matters, he or she is precious.  Gram showed each person in her family that she loved them, in a way that meant something to them.  She would make their favorite meal, discuss their favorite book, or make their favorite dessert.  Whatever mattered to them, mattered to her.
I learned that no matter what family is what matters most.  Gram lived that out every day of her life.  My hope is that I can apply the lessons I have been taught.  She was an awesome teacher and I miss her terribly.

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