Saturday, February 27, 2016

For My Grandma

Hey, Friends. I'm sorry for the sudden silence over here on the blog. Three weeks ago, I got a call that my Grandma had a stroke and was not doing well. After it became clear to me that she was not going to be recovering, I drove down to FL to see her. She passed away the next day. The next week was a rush of grief, arrangements, traveling back home to NC, then traveling back to FL for her funeral, getting to hug and spend time with my family, and lots of crying.

Growing up, we lived just down the street from my grandparents. They were a huge part of my upbringing and were so good at being present for the everyday. I moved in with them when I was a teenager and lived with them until I got married. After I got married and moved away, I talked to them several times a week. Then, after Grandpa died, Grandma and I talked on the phone every day for 5 years until she moved into a nursing home and wasn't able to use the phone anymore. Then, I switched to letters and trying to visit as much as possible. I'm so very thankful for the years and close relationship I had with both of my grandparents.

I was going through pictures for the funeral and was so thankful for my pack rat tendencies. :) I have literally kept almost every single note Grandma has ever sent me (and she loved writing letters!) along with boxes and boxes of pictures. As I was going through them, I was just flooded with all the memories and all the life lessons Grandma taught me.

Don't just think nice things about people, go out of your way to tell them.

Listen and consider the other point of view.

Don't procrastinate.

Don't spend more money than you make.

Save money.

Be frugal.

But, make sure to take trips and enjoy life with your loved ones.

Be polite. Say please and thank you. Write thank you cards.

Get an education.

Have a career.

Work hard.

When buying a house, location, location, location.

Help others in need.

Be generous.

Open up your home to others.

You never know what others are going through.

Waste not, want not.

Don't say "Huh" :)

The best style is casually elegant.

Never go to bed mad.

Be a strong, independent woman.

Never stop learning.

Everything in moderation.

Seek wise counsel.

Grandma was an amazing seamstress and used to sew me all kinds of clothes. She even sewed my Barbies clothes! Here, I have the chicken pox (and an unfortunate mullet compliments of my brother!). Grandma slathered me with calamine lotion and sewed my Barbies new clothes.

Grandma used to tuck me in bed at night and sit on the side of the bed and pat my arm. I loved it. I remember when she was in a ton of pain late one night when I was living with them, I sat next to her and patted her arm. She used to call my Liddy when I was little and dress me all up and do my hair.

My grandparents used to pick me up from school a lot and take me back to their house to swim and have a snack. I used to sit at the kitchen bar and tell Grandma all about my day and she would always rejoice in the happy moments and offer advice when I needed help. I was the only girl in my class in 6th grade, so I definitely needed help. :) She always listened and I knew she always had my back. 

I traveled a lot with my grandparents. (I got to enjoy retired life with them!) I spent summers with them in the mountains and took many road trips with them. We traveled to the majority of the eastern states together. We always took our time and stopped and stayed in towns along the way to our destinations. We'd always bring in a cooler of food to eat on the road to save money and would spend nights on the road playing cards and swimming. When I was in high school, we went on a cruise together which was so fun!

One summer, Grandma decided to perm my hair. The most ironic part is that now my hair is naturally curly! 

Grandma had a toughness and spunk to her. She was tough when I was acting up, but I always knew she loved me and wanted what was best for me. But I also knew I had better do what she said! Ha! She was spunky, active, and youthful, even into her late 80's! She took me on my first roller coaster, she and Grandpa took me on my first trip to Disney, and in Grandma's mid/late 70's she went horseback riding with my cousin and I in the mountains! Look at her saddling that horse!

Grandma was a great cook and was famous for her cinnamon rolls. She used to love the cinnamon rolls at her favorite coffee shop, so she set out to make them herself. She finally figured it out and has been making them for our family ever since. I have made them with her since I was a little girl and every time I make them now, I think of us standing side by side in the kitchen talking and making them together.

Making cinnamon rolls together (Don't ask about my hair. FL humidity + my thick hair = Whoa)

Grandma loved to entertain. We always had a big New Years party and Grandma thrived on getting ready for it, cooking for it, and getting to host a crowd of friends. She always planned her menu with dessert first. Smart woman. ;) Our house was always an open door for friends and family. I loved when family would visit from out of town and our house was bustling with activity.

Grandma used to worry about everyone in the family. She worried a lot, but it taught me to care about others and their struggles and to invest in people. She used to love talking on the phone with everyone in our family and getting to hear all about what was going on with them!

Grandma had a lot of health issues when I lived with her. I've called 911 and followed an ambulance, watching her white, curly hair in the back more times than I've cared for. I can hear the sound of a blood pressure machine a mile away and could wake from a deep sleep when she stirred across the house. I worried myself sick over them, but along the way, learned that God is in control, not me.

  Clearly, I need to clean my scanner, but this is the three of us in the mountains when I was about 15.

My grandparents had two careers. They owned and operated a grocery store, then after they sold the store, they went on to have second careers as Realtors. After they finally retired, Grandma took up painting. She took lessons and painted dozens of paintings, including the pink flowers in my hallway gallery wall. She hand painted designs on several pieces of furniture as well. She taught me to paint, spending hours teaching me the different techniques and painting several paintings together with me. She always used to tell me that once you start painting, you see the world differently. You notice how the light hits and shadows fall. So true.

Both of my grandparents loved music and dancing and could play the piano. Grandma taught me how to play piano. I can still picture us playing The Rose side by side and hear her singing along as we played. She also taught me the waltz and we waltzed all around the living room as she sang and counted off. I was horrible at it, but she and Grandpa were great together!

Grandma loved to shop for bargains! We would scour thrift stores for great deals and could comb through clearance racks together like no one's business. Grandma used to shop throughout the year for Christmas presents and would always have us try on the clothes as she bought them, then wrap them up for Christmas. We usually knew what we were getting for Christmas months ahead of time! Haha!

Speaking of Christmas... One Christmas, I found out Grandma and Grandpa weren't planning to do stockings. I incessantly teased them about it and gave them a hard time, trying to persuade them to do stockings for tradition sake. They insisted no stockings, but then on Christmas day, pulled out this gigantic stocking they had found and Grandma had decorated to prank me with. They got me back good! Ha!

I love how much my Grandparents loved Jeremy. Grandma always used to worry when I was out, but used to tell me she never worried when I was with Jeremy because he was so sensible and trustworthy. Grandpa passed away before Jeremy graduated grad school or we had kids, but Grandma was so proud of Jeremy for getting his PhD. She loved our kids so much and I'm so thankful for the memories I have of Grandma holding Little Man and making over Little Girlie. 

I could write a thousand more things, but you know the memories I hold the most dear? The everyday moments. The three of us eating dinner and talking about our day. Grandma and I teasing Grandpa about his love for her cooking. Grandpa and I teasing Grandma about anything we could! The laughter. The hugs. The late night chats. The phone calls. Doing the dishes together. Swimming together. Riding in the car together. Watching Reba. Grandpa and I watching Friends and chuckling when Grandma would turn off her hearing aids so that she didn't have to hear it since she didn't like it. The nightly search for Grandma's glasses. Grandma sitting at the desk with her legs up talking on the phone and Grandpa next to her in the chair... on and on and on...

I cherish the relationship I got to have with my grandparents and am so thankful that they gave up years of their retirement to raise a teenager. Not an easy task, but I'm forever grateful and forever shaped by two wonderful people I was incredibly lucky and so proud to have as my grandparents.

Love you, Grandma, and I miss you every day.


  1. Oh, Sam. I wept through this with you. For you. Of all the things I have known about you through our years of friendship, it's that you have loved and honored your grandparents so, so, so well! I am SO sorry for your loss! I know there will be so many times where grief seems unbearable, but I will pray and trust that God will hold you close, and that He will rescue you from sadness with these (and many more!) memories of joy and love and a beautiful life! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thanks, friend! I so appreciate it! Your comment means a lot! <3

  2. This is so beautiful honey!!!...
    You are so blessed to have had such an awesome relationship
    with your grand parents:):)...
    They were both wonderful people:):)...
    But your Grandma!!!!....She was something!!!...A beyond amazing lady:):)...
    Love you:)

    1. Thanks, Mary! I agree, they were amazing!

  3. Sam, this is a tremendous show of love for two dear people. If not for them, my husband and I never would have met. I also have wonderful memories of Nadine and Bob during my childhood. Nadine taught me Yahtzee. We would spend many wonderful nights around the table with your grandparents, my parents and my husband's parents playing, and putting up with a little girl. Oh and eating those terrific cinnamon rolls!!! She was a terrific lady and a second mom to me.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Grandma loved telling the story of getting you two together! They loved your family so much! I have so many good memories of our families together!

  4. Your grandparents are the reason my parents met and have had 36+ amazing years together. I still have the purple satin outfits she made for my barbies one summer in NC, and my parents still proudly display a winter scene she painted for them in their NC cottage. Miss Nadine has touched so many lives and will always be part of our hearts. Our family's prayers are with you all! -Amanda (formerly Ruscin)

    1. Aw, I LOVE that you still have the outfit and your parents have up her painting!! I have so many good memories of playing with you during our summers with our grandparents in the mountains! Feeding the horse, playing cards, finger weaving, picking flowers in the field, and can't forget that time we let slugs crawl all over our arms. What were we thinking?! ;) Thanks so much for your comment and your prayers! We both were super blessed with amazing grandparents!

  5. This is a great tribute to your Grandma! Sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing!


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