Thinking About Our Grandmas

Updated on March 01, 2012
T.N. asks from Saratoga Springs, NY
17 answers

I thought about her today. She passed away about 10 years ago at the age of 92. I washed the bedding in the guest room as my oldest is coming home from college for a week. No one has used the room since he was home in January so the sheets are clean, but dusty, you know?

Then, I got lazy. I left the washed and dried 600 thread count 100% cotton bedding in a heap in the laundry basket. When I made to bed today, it was all very wrinkly.

My Grandma must be rolling over in her grave!

She was a Proper Housewife. Prior to marriage she was an RN, of course. She went to bed at night with rollers in her hair, wore skirts and hose and an apron while fussing about the house each day.

She taught us 'street urchins' many important things! My mother was a single mom with five children, and worked minimully 2 jobs at all times in my childhood. So when we spent time with my Grandma, she did her best to repair the damage. She tsk-ed at our perpetual bedhead, barefootedness, raggy mismatched hand-me-downs with dirty finger nails.

She tried to make my sisters and I into Young Ladies. She bought us all natural bristle hair brushes and insisted we brush our hair no less than 100 strokes daily. She warned us to NEVER leave the house without lipstick past the age of 17. How to SIT properly in a chair and NOT swing our arms while walking.

She taught us proper table settings. Fork, fork, plate, knife, spoon, left to right. Napkin (cloth) under the fork and fork. Drapery should be washed monthly, and ironed. I can see her teetering on her little step stool in her pumps hanging the pressed drapes back up.

Sheets should be washed weekly, and pressed, EVERY SINGLE TIME! A wrinkly sheet was the sign of a lazy wife. Hospital corners should be used on both sheets, and one should NEVER leave the bedroom after waking up until the bed was made.

And so on, giggle.

Luckily, a good day for my mother was a day she ended with the same number of uninjured children she started with, and enough groceries to get through the next day.

I think I am somewhere in the middle.

Were there big difference between your mom and your Grandmother? Do you use what you've learned from one more then the other? Would YOUR Grandma be APPALLED that the bedding in my guest room is a wrinkly shambles?


Have a great day, Ladies!

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So What Happened?

I should also mention, there was no animosity between them. They good naturedly teased each other about their extreme differences.

On Sundays after mass we would all go to Grandma's for 'tea'. Of course, mass ended at 11:30, which was just enough time for actual TEA before cocktail time.

My Gma would make a pitcher of Manhattans exactly at noon, and they would sip them from iced martini glasses complete with a cherry on a cocktail sword, and coasters, of course.

My Gma would hand my mom her drink and say something like, "well, I KNOW you'd rather have a can of beer"....and my mom would laugh and say "it's ok, I've got a 6 pack in the car, but let's finish this first!" lol Of course my mother did not have beer, she was lucky to have milk and bread two days after pay day.

Grandma would also have soda for us kids. This was a HUGE treat. And sweets. She believed we should all indulge from time to time. She consider alcohol, sweets and such 'fine things'.

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answers from Orlando on

This one is a tuchy one for me.
My granfathers die before I born, had not relationship with my father's mother and my mom's mother die when I was a kid.

But, I do have memories of her.

She LOVED to sign.

She loved to cook, and she was very good at. My mom tells me every vacations she would send me with her and when she would pick me up at the end of my vacations I was very round, lol.

She never wear pants and she always put me on dresses.

She would give me her hand to play as a doll.

She would ask me to put cream on her heels, which were very dry, but I never felt gross about it, never.

Then one day, my mom and my granmother got in a fight and we move very far away and soon she die (my grandma).

There is a song it reminds me of her because she taugh me and sang to me many many times:
Cattanooga Choo Choo (in Spanish)

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answers from New York on

I AM my grandmother so much more than my mother. She was also a psychologist (although she finished her PhD and mine is still "in the works"), socially active and very into cooking... not so much into cleaning. Her message to me (starting around age 12) was "don't marry the doctor- BE the doctor". Still working on that one, but getting closer each semester. She made my mother into a very strong and independent person who chose to stay home with her children while we were young. They were really different in that respect, but in other ways very much alike.

Thinks I learned from her:
- Nothing good happens after 2:00 am, but those things sure are fun (she almost got kicked out of college for sneaking through her window after curfew).
- Just because you are having a bad day, that isn't an excuse to look like a shlub. Put on some makeup and get dressed for the day. Don't complain to the world... people have their own issues, so save your "venting" for your sisters and mom.
- Use the good plates, don't just let them sit in a cabinet. If they chip, who cares? Those are signs of love and use, not of carelessness.
- Hire a housekeeper if you can afford one. You won't regret the expense when you have more time with your family.
- Music playing in the house is so much more pleasant than the television.
- Play hooky once in a while... it's good for the soul and for the marriage
- NEVER forget that your husband came before your kids (you wouldn't have them without him)... don't let that relationship take a back seat. Your kids will survive if you leave them with a sitter from time-to-time and go out as a couple.
- Don't assume that the grandparents want to be the go-to baby sitters

My grandmother and I were incredibly close. My mother is adopted and my father used to joke all the time about our relationship and similarity being a really strong case for the "nurture" side of the argument... at times, he would just shake his head and laugh.

She was the consumate professional and socialite, but had a wicked sense of humor and an opinion on everything until the morning she died. I remember going to visit her that morning with my husband (at that time boyfriend, but she had already seen the ring) and her exact words to me were... "You need to get your roots done. You're either a blond or a brunette. Pick one or the other b/c right now you look trashy." Then she proceeded to tell me that I should get married in the fall or spring b/c the flowers in the "extreme" seasons were less plentiful. I miss her every day, but see her influences throughout my life.

Thanks for posting this!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I still miss my grandmas!

Both of my grandmothers were widows for a good part of their lives, and very, very independent ladies, both.

I think I get that sense of independence from each of them.

I followed my German grandmothers advice that said (about men) "Be choosy, you can find a loser any day of the week!" She was right. It's ALL in the picking!

My mom is more open emotionally with me than her mother was with her.

What a great post, Theresa.

(And I don't think your grandma would be rolling over about your wrinkled sheets--she's probably too proud to be miffed!)

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answers from Austin on

THERESA! I often think there should be a contest and prizes given weekely to the best question. Today, you win it! I am so glad to hear the nostalgia of your post.

My grandparents are all gone now. I liked spending summers with G. and watching Pop feed the chickens and helping her crack green beans.

My grandmas would hate that I have wild and free hair (dred locs), she liked 'tame' hair.

We are now so damn caught up in the opulence of the Housewives of anywhere and all of their glamour, that we have forgotten the heart and simplicity of our G. and grandpa. Thanks Theresa!

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answers from Lakeland on

I think my grandma (paternal) is rolling in her grave about how much is wasted now (food, money, etc.) by everybody. She and my grandpa were adults during the depression (both born in the 1890's) and lost so much then. I try to always remember what they taught me about saving and not wasting things which I try to also teach my daughter. We forget that everything in life can change in one day it has happened so many times in history.

And yes she would be appalled if your sheets are wrinkly and in shambles, but since your son is coming home from college he will probably just be glad they are clean, lol.

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answers from San Francisco on

Thanks for posting this! I think about my nanan all the time! I loved her so very much and looked forward to every minute I got to spend with her. She too was an RN and in fact was one of the very first nurses to work to work at our local hospital more than 70 years ago! Every time I pass that hospital I feel a little nostalgic! Again, thanks for posting this and bringing a smile to my morning!

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answers from Kansas City on

Grandma was a neat freak. Everything in it's place, dusted. She always wore hot pink rouge (as she called it). And her Moo Moo! On Saturdays she would make pancakes...with homemade syrup! Gosh I miss her syrup, I can't use store bought EVER!

With are of her maternal nesting and habits of shopping, she never drove a car a day in her life, she carried "ole Bessy" in her bag (her pistol) everywhere she went. She was plump and squishy woman who looked 20 years younger than her actual age.

We would go over on Sundays and "help her clean"...we would Windex the house and she'd give a dollar!

She was my best friend! She was my hero, a working woman with her own money..."every woman should have her own bank account". I have my own bank account separate from my husband.

At her wake I looked at her and said to my sister and mom "she's not wearing enough rouge!"...I went to Walmart and the next morning before they closed her casket I added hot pink rouge to her face. My grandpa said "That's more like it". I picked the songs that were played during her wake, visitation and funeral ceremony. Someone said "Those are the perfect songs for her"...I said "yeah but they were only her 2nd, 3rd, and 4th favorite"...they looked at me and said "why not her favorite?"...I said " I like my women a little on the trashy side was vetoed by my mother".

I am a lot like her...shoot it straight, have fun and love your family with everything you have! And they will love you in return. As I've gotten older I've noticed my mother is just like her too!

Added:I miss her every day. She waited for me the day she died. She knew I was coming and held on and came back twice from coding to say good bye!

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answers from San Francisco on

Great memories! I didn't get to know my grandma (mom's mom) very well since she passed when I was young but her sister (my great aunt) told me a story that sums up their personalities. When they were young girls and ready for church my great aunt took great care to keep her lovely gloves white and her dress pristine all the while my grandma was up in a tree in her Sunday best! I definitely take after my grandma! And I have my mom's devilish sense of humor (she also passed 16 years ago.) There are some days I look up and tell my mom to stop laughing at me when I do something klutzy or embarrassing.

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answers from Boca Raton on

My grandma could feed 8 kids on $35, sometimes less (out of a garden).

I hear you.

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answers from Providence on

I am so very blessed to have my wonderful grandma Mimi alive and well. She's a southern grandma. Very proper and old fashioned. She's the sweetest thing you could ever meet though, and won't let you leave without a full stomach. I've taken so much of her advice over the years. My mother is very close to her, and they both have well over 30 years in the nursing field. I think the only difference would be in their cooking.

My mother has always cooked very healthy meals. My grandma-loves her fried chicken and cornbread with peach cobbler. Now though, she is more cautious at what she eats, but she "still has to have something sweet every day! "

If my grandma were to stay here, you better believe I would make sure it was spottless. She would also iron the sheets, pillows, etc when we visited her. I know I don't go that far, and neither does my mom. haha.

Now, in her late 80's we visit her, but she still wants to make sure we leave with a full stomach, but not without her chocolate cake! :)

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answers from Kansas City on

My grandma sounds similar to yours. I can still see her ironing her pillow cases and sheets. No, I don't iron mine or anything else anymore! Shame on me. She canned in the heat with no air conditioning, gathered eggs, washed clothes with the wringer machine in the basement, made the world's best bisquits from scratch with no recipe, never drove a car, never voted, never worked out of the home, etc., etc. She died in 1996 at 94 years old. I learned so much from her and tell my grandkids over and over and they hate it, how we just enjoyed being with our grandparents. No cell phones or games, none of the new electronic things kids think they have to entertain themselves with and the famous line of 'I'm bored'. We weren't bored. I miss my grandma so often and look at her china I got and other things she embroidered and valued so much. Most of all just miss talking to her.

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answers from New York on

my grandma was all heart and love. she had a very tough life so i hope she is enjoying herself in heaven with all her kids who are gone.
my mom was raised by my grandma and she is just like her. a true martyr. i try to make them both proud. my kids are my world.

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answers from Columbia on

I LOVE this post! Thank you! You've brought back so many memories!!

I love this: "a good day for my mother was a day she ended with the same number of uninjured children she started with, and enough groceries to get through the next day."

That was definitely my mom when I was growing up. I love her....and things definitely improved...but I too spent a LOT of time at Grandma's in her immaculate home.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

My grandmother is 84 she has been my hero my whole life. My grandpa left her 65 years ago with 4 kids. In the 50's she put herself through beauty school bought a house and built her own shop- she did every old lady in town's hair until about 5 years ago. She raised the kids managed to keep her house and her dignity in a really rough time for a divorce with kids, she never re-married. I spent the weekend moving her out of this house and all her life into a storage unit. We reduced this life to an 8x8 room because she gets delusions now and keeps falling and hurting herself. I cried all the way home. It broke my heart

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answers from Washington DC on

Well it depends on the grandma, My maternal great gram and paternal grams were so freakin awesome I still miss them. My great gram passed away in 1990 and my grams passed away in 2002. There is STILL a hole in my heart where their physical presence resided. They were both a little more laid back and CERTAINLY didn't abide by all that mess your grandmother did :) My grams was a divorced mother of 7 in the late 1940's so what's that tell ya about her :)

My maternal grandma however ... while I loved her and all, when she passed it was really a relief. She had some pretty major issues and could be a REALLY REALLY REALLY mean person, physically, verbally and emotionally. She wasn't all bad but she definitely had "moods" and when she was in a certain one ... run for the hills.

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answers from San Antonio on

Theresa! Another reason why I love you so much!! Our Grandma's were so much alike! And I have been missing her ALOT lately!! And Yes, my mother was nothing like her!! I happily fall closer to my Grandma Nita's ways of living. She was a tough cookie, but loved SO MUCH!! What I would not give to smell the clean linens in her house!! I have tried to duplicate it to no end....clean, fresh, crisp, you would bury your face in the pillow and take a deep breath and fall asleep peacefully! Makes me cry!
She would turn her nose up at the condition of my laundry room. It's a mess. Piles of dirty blankets and sheets. BUT I am waiting for good weather so I can hang them out to dry!! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
HUGS Theresa, thanks for the waterworks!

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answers from Kansas City on

I spent last Saturday shopping with my paternal grandma and my little sister! Grandma's house was cluttered like always, but she had a huge smile on her face! I would say of my two grandma's, I'm most like her. My maternal grandmother was a widow most of her life, and spent more time on her church than on her children. I can actually remember the first time I met her. I think I was 7. However, I can't remember a time when my dad's mom wasn't in my life.

Thanks for this post, it definately made me smile!

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