I lost my grandmother last fall, and with the passing of time have found the strength to discuss it on my blog without crying like a young child for hours after the fact. Having never lost anyone this close or this integral to my childhood, I discovered some brand new things about loss. For me, the sadness eventually transformed into a deep sense of honor that I was ever blessed with her presence in the first place.
Gran was a teacher and a librarian, so there were many people who were affected by her kindness, her sense of humor, and her passion for learning. Even in her last years, long after she had retired, she still taught a Sunday School class at her church because she genuinely enjoyed reaching out and helping people grow. The perks of being her granddaughter were tremendous. She contributed greatly to my happy childhood with her generous spirit. For example, I loved watching Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego at her house after school, and I once mentioned how much I loved the globe earrings worn by "The Chief". I don't know how she tracked them down, because this was well before the internet changed the way we shop, but somehow she found a pair of globe earrings and gave them to me. It wasn't even a birthday or any other gift-giving occasion, she did it just because she paid attention to me and wanted me to feel special, and she did things like that all the time.
Other than road raging at "old cadgers" who drove too slowly and blocked traffic, I never witnessed her speaking negatively about anyone (and the only reason she ranted about cadgers was because it made me giggle uncontrollably, so she'd say it over and over again just to make me laugh). She was incredibly sweet, but also stern when it came to manners. Showing respect for others was very important to her, a quality I'm happy to say was nurtured in me at an early age. I am still discovering little bits of her in my personality, and I hope this trend continues well into my own grandmother years. I'll think of her every time I cuddle up with a book and spend hours in its grasp. Every time I brush my hair behind my ear, I'll remember her telling me my face was far too pretty to let my hair cover it up. When I see elderly people advancing slowly down the road in their Cadillacs, I'll call them cadgers in my mind. And as I grow to be a strong woman who constantly educates herself and attempts to help others find their passions, I will thank my lucky stars that I have the example of a strong, kind-hearted woman like my Gran to guide me through life.
A famous excerpt from Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts, a book my Gran adored and passed on to me when I was younger.
Who helped shape the person you are now? What qualities do you see in yourself that you know were inspired by the ones you love?