Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

I’ve spotlighted several of my family members over the past several months. I didn’t really plan it that way, but once I started; I felt it had to be continued. It all started with my Grandpa last October around his 90th birthday. Since then, I’ve talked about my Mother, my older brother, my younger brother, my other Grandpa, and one of my Grandmothers. Today, because I haven’t honored her yet, and because it’s her birthday, I feel it appropriate to mention my Grandma, Jane. She is my youngest grandparent (at age 82 as of today), married to my oldest Grandpa at nine years his junior, and is the mother of four daughters, including, of course, my own mother. I fully expect this description to be a gross understatement and underestimate of the great qualities my grandmother possesses, simply because the preceding family spotlights have all been such. It seems I just don’t have the time, or the space, and probably not the words to adequately describe the character of these people.

My Grandmother grew up in the country, in the midst of the Great Depression, with the stock market crash occurring around her first birthday. Her family taught her to work hard, and it’s a lesson she learned well. She went from working on her family’s farm on an Oklahoma river bottom, to getting married at age 17, to raising four little girls in a tiny, drafty house. Her later life, in which I’ve known her, has looked much different. I am the seventh of ten grandchildren. In my lifetime, she has been a school cook, home gardener, bait shop co-owner, daughter, sister, mother, aunt, wife, grandmother, and great-grandmother. As a cook, she worked tirelessly to make sure the kids she served were fed nutritious, well-balanced meals while they were at school. School lunches have changed dramatically since her career as head-cook, but that’s another story.

As a mother, she kept her children clothed, fed, clean and safe. As a grandmother, she has done everything possible to keep me clothed, fed, and safe. She didn’t play games with me, like my other Grandma. Instead, she carved out cucumbers to make me a sailboat, provided old sheets for me to make tents in her living room, and she took me fishing. She has worked tirelessly her entire life to care for her family, and she still does so today. Today, she’s 82 and has a husband who is almost 91, children ranging from 57-62, grandchildren ranging from 22-41, and great-grandchildren ranging from 0-16. And she still, to this day, in some way, on any given day, does something to take care of one of them. I’m thankful for my grandma. I could never convey the extent to which she’s shaped my life, and I pray that I will love my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren the way she has loved hers.

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