My grandmother celebrates 87 years today. She lives alone, drives her car and is learning to check Facebook on her Android tablet. The walls of her house are filled from floor to ceiling with framed family photographs. Her shelves are stacked with pictures, four frames deep. She is lovely, generous and kind. Many of the things I know that are worth knowing I have learned from my grandmother.
I never knew my grandfather. My mother’s father died one month before I was born. My grandmother has filled the years that followed by loving her family enough for both of them.
My grandmother finished her formal education at 8th grade. There was nothing beyond that available to her. She enjoyed school so much she took 8th grade twice.
My grandmother is a news and politics junky. Back in the Reagan/Bush/Clinton days she was a keen follower of public policy, celebrating the success of both parties. When politics turns nasty, she loses her taste for it and cultivates an expertise in the national weather.
When her sight was better, my grandmother was a voracious reader, preferring political and celebrity biography. She has never developed an appreciation for fiction.
When I was 10 years old, I often spent the night with my grandmother. She had cable. That’s how I found out about MTV.
When spending the night, we often had dinner together at Krystal. She never had much money and she enjoyed buying those dozen tiny, little hamburgers. It was always a low-cost feast.
When I was a kid, she was always giving me the last dollar out of her wallet. I took those dollars, never realizing she was giving her last one.
She used to carry Certs with her everywhere. She offered me one every time there was a lull in conversation or we were waiting for something to happen.
My grandmother is the kind of person with whom it is easy to share good news. She was one of the first people my wife and I told when we got engaged and again when expecting our daughter.
She doesn’t have much and has never asked for much. She surrounds herself with the love of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She gives more generously than her means and never speaks unkindly of anyone. She forgives quickly and celebrates every little success. She always expects the best of everyone and is seldom disappointed.
She worries too much and hates to be a burden on anyone. She lives simply and maintains a stubborn sense of self-reliance.
I am grateful to her in ways I cannot find words to describe. And so I will leave this to say, my grandmother is a phenomenally kind, generous, loving person. She has suffered loss and then seen years of increase. She holds the world together with worry and attention. I hope you are reading this and thinking of someone in your life like this. If you are, you understand what it means to be loved and appreciated beyond all limits and reason. You understand the spirit of generosity.