This blog post will be a little different today. I am writing about my grandmother who is celebrating her 90th birthday today. While most of my readers don’t know her, I wanted to write about her because she has been one of the greatest influences on my life, and one of the ways I can honor her is with my words. I will be giving her a copy of this post, in a card at her upcoming party.
Today, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, I want to express to you all the things I love about you and the ways in which you have influenced me over the past 46 years of my life. You have been there for me since day one and you have always been like a second mother to me. I don’t remember the first two years of my life when we lived right next door to you, but going to your house, even today, makes me feel like I’m home. You are always so happy to see me and always willing to make coffee and have a bite to eat and spend time visiting. I feel like I can talk to you about almost anything and your words of advice stay with me. Some of my favorite memories from childhood include sleeping over at your house and staying up late to watch TV with you while Grandpa fell asleep on the couch, and the shopping trips and errands we would go on where you would always buy me “a little something.” I remember all your roast beef dinners, and the holidays that were always celebrated at your house. Christmas will never be the same anywhere else.
I love to hear your stories about France, your childhood, your parents and especially the World War II stories when the Germans occupied France. Of course, I also love to hear about how you met Grandpa, and the night my Mom was born on your mother’s dining room table. You are a master story teller with a gift of description that brings your listeners to the place and time of your stories. You are always willing to share your personal stories, even if it means making fun of yourself or sharing something embarrassing that you did. Your story telling is one of my most favorite things about you. My children also love your stories and I love that they will remember you and your stories.
One of the things I admire most about you is your incredible artistic talent. I don’t know anyone who has a knack for decorating like you do, and I don’t know anyone else who takes it upon themselves to walk into their daughter’s or granddaughter’s home and make adjustments to the decor without being asked. We never minded because it always looked a million times better! And you did it from your heart, and to help us love our homes as much as you love yours. You are amazing with a sewing machine and I know over your many years you have made wardrobes of clothes, but most impressive and meaningful are the many wedding gowns, head pieces, and hats you have made. I hope someday one of my girls will wear the beautiful head piece you made me for my wedding. Then there is the knitting. There have been many babies who have been blessed with the baby sweaters and hats you have made over the years. I cherish the sweaters you made for my babies, and all the hats and scarves that kept my children warm over the years. My favorite thing, though, is that every year you take a baby sweater to the hospital on Grandpa’s birthday and donate it to an underprivileged newborn baby. You are always so generous with your love and talents.
Your generosity is another quality you have that I admire. You have always been willing to help out any of your children or grandchildren with anything…whether it was a home cooked meal, or an item from your home that someone could use, or even cash to help someone get by during a rough patch. You have a way of giving without making the other person feel bad or guilty, and you have no idea how much that is appreciated by all of us. You also are willing to help strangers. I’ve seen you help elderly people in stores, or assist a child with something out in public, or simply donate something to a stranger when one of your children or grandchildren mention they know someone in need. I also remember several holidays when you took in people you didn’t know who had no family nearby, and let them spend the holiday with our big family and enjoy an incredible dinner. You share your love and let your light shine, and the world is a better place for it. I know mine is.
Your job as mother is where you shine the brightest. You took care of your children in a way that every mother should. Their needs were always first, they always had a hot meal, beautiful home made clothing, a happy place to live, and tons of love. You took care of Grandpa throughout your life together, right up to his last breath. He was so lucky to call you his wife. You have that same love for your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Everyone knows that Mom, Grandma or Grandee will take care of them. You taught my Mom how to be a Mom, and she taught me how to be a Mom. I hope that my girls continue to carry it on.
Grandma, you are one of the strongest women I know and that is one of the biggest influences you have had on me. Life hasn’t always been easy for you. You’ve survived a war, and left your country to come here to raise a family. Our family has had it’s share of difficult times, but you are a pillar of strength for everyone. You never let it get the best of you. You have survived the worst of nightmares in the loss of your child, Uncle Jeff. I can’t imagine the devastation of losing a child, and I know it was devastation for you. But you carry on, and live and laugh. That is an incredible gift to him, and the rest of your family. So many mothers would get lost in their grief and never be the same again, but you are still here for the rest of us. As I go through difficult times in my life, I think of you and your strength and it helps me carry on and do the same for my family. Thank you so much for that.
I could go on, but those were the things I especially wanted you to know. I love you more than words can express, and I want you to know that you will forever occupy a large piece of my heart. I will carry you with me for the rest of my days, and I will be here for you for the rest of yours. Have a very happy 90th birthday, Gram. I love you!