My Grandma’s Teachings Set An Everyday Standard For Lifelong Kindness

It seems that, around the age of 30–35, your memories shift. You recall events from your childhood from a more mature perspective and become hugely thankful for the kind things adults did for you as a child. Although I had multiple positive female role models in my young life — including my mother, two older sisters and a few great aunts — the kind acts of one woman continue to be reflected in my everyday adult life. Almost daily, I end a sentence with ” … because Grandma taught me how to do it.”

After making the most tender, flaky pie crust that he’s ever tasted, my husband asked how I did it. The answer: because of Grandma. After sewing a dress for my niece without a pattern, the same question arose. Again: because of Grandma. I can also identify nearly every tree and wildflower in the forest, pitch a tent, and prepare pancakes, eggs, and bacon over a campfire.

During my childhood, I spent many summer days and weekends with my grandparents. They included me in nearly every exciting (and mundane) task on the calendar. We did the grocery shopping, hunted for wild mushrooms, took pottery classes, and cleaned out the garage, always together. They made every activity into a teachable moment. Whether I learned how to do something new or value the results of putting hard work into a task, I was better for it.

At the start of 2015, my grandma celebrated her 103rd birthday. Yes, 1-0-3. Even in her golden years, with declining hearing and slowed steps, she’s still sharing her knowledge. Each time I make the six-hour drive to her home for a visit, we tackle a project in the kitchen, or she shows me a book that I simply have to read when I get some free time. She almost always has a stack of newspaper recipe clippings or magazine articles with DIY craft ideas to send home with me, and we still exchange handwritten cards, letters, and photos in the mail.

Last summer, I wrote to her about an uncommon butterfly I saw in my vegetable garden. A week later, a magazine clipping with a photo of the exact butterfly and all the details of the species was waiting in my mailbox. When my husband came home from work that evening, I told him the name of the rare butterfly. He asked, “How did you figure it out?” I said, once again, “Grandma.”

Image source: Angela Tague