There’s no question, I’m pretty lucky to still have a grandma. This particular Grandma is pretty special for a few reasons. She was one of 21 children born in Ireland to her entrepreneurial parents.
Grandma went on to have many children herself – she had babies in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. She often laughs telling the story of getting the old age pension and baby bonus at the same time. She did not take her parenting duties lightly and everyone respected “Mother”.
She never once raised her voice – she didn’t need to. None of her children would ever behave in a way that might upset her. She respected her children, and they respected her. She still does; and they still do.
So, I thought it would be worth sharing her wisdom, lessons, stories and “Grandma-isms”. They are countless, but I thought of a few off the top of my head:
1) When she was in her late 80s, she had her first relative “come out”. Her nephew had written Grandma a letter to inform her. So how does an old Irish Catholic Grandma respond? She writes him back and says “A life in hiding is a life unlived. I’m sorry you didn’t feel you could tell me sooner”. BAM!
2) Grandma was the only person I was afraid to announce my last few pregnancies to. She’d grab my forearm and say “But darling, you girls have choices now – you don’t HAVE to have so many kids”. She loves and adores her children, but very much understands the demands of raising kids. Clearly, she believes that it is a good thing that women have more choices now.
3) I once spoke to her about how children are being raised now and asked if she thought they were spoiled and over-programmed. I expected her to say yes, because isn’t that what old people do – complain about “kids today”? I got quite the opposite response. She loves that kids are so engaged and stimulated today. She said children of her generation were bored and under-stimulated. Grandma loves seeing how smart kids are today because of the opportunities they have.
4) Grandma has a child with disabilities. To this day, my aunt lives with Grandma. The very best lesson I learned when my son was diagnosed with autism was from my Grandma. She sat me down and said: “Now, this is how it’s going to be from now on. All priorities are shifted. He comes first. If you do everything in the best interest of this child, he will be your life’s greatest achievement”. She was right.
5) Grandma was always independent, but was an amazing partner and spouse to Grandpa. They had over 75 years together. And the day he died, she *may* have done a small fist pump and yelled “FINALLY – a widow!” Grandma believes there is a time for everything, and it was Grandpa’s time.
So cheers to the grand matriarch of our family on her 100th birthday. She’s touched many lives and taught many lessons. That’s the kind of legacy we should all aspire to.