On Sunday we celebrated Zach’s grandmother’s 90th birthday. Pretty incredible. Zach’s mom had a brilliant idea of making a list of the 90 things we love about Grandma Jean. She sent a request to family and close friends a couple of weeks before the celebration and got back great responses. Some people actually listed things like, “her love of reading”, but most of the submissions were letters expressing how Grandma Jean had influenced their lives. The letters were touching – humorous, heartfelt, and sweet.
I noticed a common theme in all of her grandchildren’s submissions – she felt like home. Whenever they were at her house, Grandma Jean made them feel comfortable and cozy. I felt this immediately when I first visited Zach’s family in Bakersfield during a road trip in college. I remember sitting in the kitchen eating a salad with vegetables she grew in the garden and laying around with a number of dogs and cats she had rescued from one place or another. She has a nurturing soul.
The ’90 things’ were read aloud during the birthday party. I learned a lot about Grandma Jean –
-She is an avid reader. Sometimes she reads hours into the night. She even got carpel tunnel in her thumb from clicking the next page on her Kindle!
-She grew up on a ranch in California and rode horses.
-She has been accused of cheating at gin rummy.
-She loves Enya’s music.
– some things were familiar, and some were totally new. Which inspired me. I want to learn more about my family and hear all of the funny and sweet and sad stories.
I don’t have any grandparents left – they all died either before we were born or when we were pretty young. Shannon and I were closest to our mom’s mom – Grandma Caroline. She loved coffee and pie (I never saw her eat a real meal, which is probably where my mom got it!). She had gorgeous style – Shannon and I loved playing dress up in her closet at her house in South Dakota. She was a career woman in Chicago when she was young. We did not know my dad’s mom well, but I remember feeling warm and comfortable in her home. I wish I would have gotten to know both of them better. I think it is important to have connections to family and learn your family stories, so I have set a goal to get in touch with some of our living family members in South Dakota, Texas, California, and who knows where else!
Zach’s mom made a scrapbook and pasted in all of the notes and letters and cards on pretty paper. I know Grandma Jean went home that night and got snuggled up in her cozy and clean house and poured over those. It was a perfect gift for a 90-year old woman who lives a good, full life.
I am inspired to learn more about my living family members – how about you?