I’m pretty lucky to have not only known all of my grandparents, but also to have had a good relationship with all of them. It makes me really sad to hear friends tell me how they never got a chance to meet them or know them- my grandparents have all played a part in making me who I am.
My maternal grandmother (after mom, husband and son) has been the most important person in my life. I spent weekends and weeks in the summer visiting my grandparents in a small rural town in Ontario as a kid- running through their huge backyard or playing on the tire swing my grandpa made for me. She was far from being a stylish lady in the clothing sense (Although she had amazing fur coats which used to hang in the closet that I’d love to go in and pet and a blue silk lounge dress from a visit to Singapore which I use as a bathrobe to this day) but she was ahead of her time in so many other ways- she did tai chi at the community centre before it was a cool thing to do, ate gluten-free and was line dancing when the first Cyrus hit the music scene, and took her granddaughter with her. When I went away to University and hung out at some Western bars, this was a skill I was pretty proud to have. She played with me and my brother endlessly, had unfailing patience for us, cooked for us, sewed and knitted for us and would comb my hair while we watched TV in the evening. I have such absolutely perfect memories of my grandma. She died very young in my first year of University after a battle with cancer. To this day when I think of her, I am terribly sad for all of things she missed (My University graduation, my wedding, my first house, my son…) but also thankful that she was such a huge part of my life as a kid and truly shaped who I am today. My maternal grandpa was a huge golfer- he bought himself a golf cart which he’d drive to the golf course down the street. He also was a fantastic woodworker- he made an entire nursery set for my Cabbage Patch Doll, Ingrid (Yes, I remember her name) which my mom still has. As a young teenager visiting them the summer that the Backstreet Boys were in full swing, I remember convincing him to drive me to the nearest big town (About 30 minutes on the highway) so that I could get it on the first day it came out- and then me whining the entire way because he drove too slow. The patience they both had for their wildly dramatic granddaughter! My grandpa passed away about 8 years ago.
My paternal grandma is pretty much the most active and vivid lady I’ve ever met. At the age of almost 80 at my wedding, she came with my husband and I on a day excursion to Jamaica’s Ocho Rios and climbed a waterfall with us. She still curls (the ice sport), plays bridge and has a more active social calendar than me. I hope to be as active as she is when I’m her age! She’s been married for 55 years to my grandpa, and they’re going to be celebrating that anniversary by re-creating their honeymoon in New York City this October, isn’t that adorable? My paternal grandpa is also a pretty impressive guy- at 80+, he still gets on the bus to go to the YMCA to exercise, gardens and cheers more passionately for the Yankees and Rangers than anyone else I know of. I spoke to them on the phone today and they had just seen “The King’s Speech”- to which my grandpa told me about how he had seen King George when he was in Scotland in WW2. He was about a foot away from him! How cool is that?
I was also lucky enough to meet (and remember) 4 of my Great-Grandparents. My maternal Great-Grandma I remember cooking in the kitchen and sewing/knitting elaborate dresses for me and my Barbies. I actually have a picture of my mom, me and my Cabbage Patch Doll wearing matching outfits my Great-Grandma made for me. My great-grandpa was a very quiet man who loved to watch my brother and I play in the front yard and watch WWF wresting. He lived an incredibly long life and when he passed away, found books full of lists he’d kept about everything- including how much gas he put in his car and how much he’d paid for it. I’m a compulsive list maker, so it appears I come by this genetically! My paternal great grandmothers I remember much less of, but recall visiting and how quiet and elegant one was while the other had so much personality.
Another neat thing about them all? Seeing parts of them in me:
Maternal Grandma: Body Shape, People pleaser, Doing what you want and not what’s trendy
Maternal Grandpa: Addictive part of my personality, work habits and ethics
Paternal Grandma: Physical resemblance, independence
Paternal Grandpa: Story-teller gene, stoic and proud
So if you are still lucky enough to have a grandparent in your life, take some time today to call them up just to say hello. Drop them a line with a handwritten note. Swing by for tea. It’s not only the refined thing to do, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Trust me.