Sunday, January 6, 2013

Grandmothers Should be on the Endangered Species List Pt. 2

   Our society was once flourishing with grandmotherly activity but today, the landscape of our culture has changed drastically. Mostly gone are the wizened faces of maternal perfection. We are so caught up in being young and hip that being elderly in public is almost a crime. Grandmothers have lost their desire to teach their precious grandchildren life lessons and instead look to learn text lingo and find the coolest cut of jeans. I guess I am a fuddy dud. I do not like when a woman in her late 60s is prancing around the wholesale club in her skinny jeans with spiky hot pink-tipped hair. Maybe I feel like they should be showing the rest of us that life is not so shallow. Instead, I am finding it more common to be literally faced with an aging woman's decolletage exposing more than I care to see. Is no one else depressed that the message they are sending is that we need to put more time into looking like a tramp? No, granny I do not want to see your bra, the back of your thong, or your belly button!

  My grandmothers were beautiful and they did no such things. I respect them still today. They hold a place of honor in my life. This week I want to introduce you to my other grandmother. She was a jewel for sure and she did not even have a lip piercing.

"Grandma Ruby"
  My grandmother lived about six hours away from us so we would usually get to see her once or twice a year. She was amazing. Her husband had left her and then he died of cancer. Two weeks before I was born, she remarried. They were so in love and did the craziest things. Once they took a small fishing boat and floated down the Mississippi River. They stopped along the way and had the wildest adventures. When I was about 9, my mother was pretty much single and working all the time. We lived in government housing and she did not allow us to go outside while she was not home. Grandma Ruby was so sad that we would have to spend our summer in our little rectangle apartment that she suggested we come stay with her. It was hard for me to leave my mother. I worried about her being alone but man, was it wonderful to be able to play.

  Grandma Ruby was the queen of free activities. She could find the best things to do and it never cost a dime. She enrolled us in the Girls' Club and we learned to swim, do gymnastics, and make crafts. She took us fishing and taught us how to bait our own hook and remove the fish. Later, she taught me how to clean a fish. We went cave exploring at state parks and had picnics. She let us trim the bushes in front of her house. Now this may not sound fun to you but if you grew up without a yard of your own and had the chance to use clippers, well, you would understand. She let us play office and taught us how to make our own lunches. We learned how to make butter and homemade ice cream and how amazingly cool garage sales are even if you only have a dollar.

  One important aspect of her life was caring for others and she did not leave us out of this area either. She checked in on the sick and elderly neighbors on her street and took them food. Grandma Ruby taught us that sometimes just sitting next to someone quietly was the best gift. It is a rare thing for people to even wave at their neighbors nowadays, much less, know them by name. Everyone on her street loved her.

  Grandma Ruby also taught us that it is never too late to learn something new. She had never learned to swim or ride a bike and she always wanted to do both. During our summer stays, we spent an hour a week at her swim lessons. She loved the water. She never did learn how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle but my grandfather bought her a big three-wheeled one with a large basket on the back and she would ride all over.
She was determined and she was no quitter. You have to work hard and keep pressing forward and above all, you read the Bible, which she did with us every night during the summer.

  As I entered my rebellious teenage years, it became hard for her to keep us entertained. We gave her a run for her money and eventually, she had to retire from keeping us all summer. I was not very nice but she was never afraid to call me out or tell me about God. I know that woman prayed for me A LOT. Once I had kids of my own, she helped me out and I took her on adventures. She still wasn't afraid to call me out when I was being a stubborn wife or stressed-out mother. We had great times together. My last visit with her, she was not talking and I knew it was her time. This time I prayed for her and read her the Bible. Slowly and peacefully, she slipped away.

  One thing I will never ever forget is that she told me that I have to die to self everyday. You cannot complain, be rude, or whine if you have died to self. God knew I needed someone to tell me that A LOT.

  Where are the grandmas who are teaching? We are losing our grip on values and even reality without these women. Let's forget the whales and the pandas and save the grandmothers. It is my goal to find a woman, preferably with gray or white hair, who has not given up on life or grabbed so tight onto the world that they are trying to be 18. I am watching for that woman who is strong enough to embrace the season she is in and use her wisdom to bless others. Are you out there? Or should I just pierce my chin?

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