I had a conversation with my grandmother this weekend on the occasion of her 97th birthday and I am in awe of her. She lives on her own in the house on Cherry Blossom Lane she and my Grandfather built when my dad was a young boy. Her usual busy schedule of playing in multiple bridge groups with friends and volunteering at church has been halted due to COVID. Not one to sit and feel sorry for herself, she now fills her days reading three books at a time and knitting.
She has always relied on the library for her next new read, but that too was impacted by the pandemic. Recently, at the suggestion of my uncle, her sons and grandchildren sent her new books to keep up with her enhanced reading level. She was thrilled to receive the bounty from all of us and we talked at length about the books she has already finished and those in her current rotation. She loves historical fiction and at the ripe young age of 97, she is thrilled to learn more about various periods of history and relishes the escape to new and different places through the pages of books. She is sharp as can be and is the epitome of a lifelong learner. An absolute inspiration.
She promised to save the books that I had sent to her so that, someday, I too could read them. I reluctantly told her how I haven’t had much time to read lately. She reminded me that she spent many years of her life without a moment to read or knit, now two of her favorite pastimes. But she raised four boys and worked as a kindergarten teacher, which she enjoyed thoroughly. She had no time for anything but being a mother, wife and teacher. In her wisdom, she encouraged me to enjoy each season of life as it happens.
Though I was sad I could not celebrate in person with grandma this year, it was a joy to hear her continued love of life and our connection through books. I am grateful to have had her in my life as a constant voice of wisdom and experience for so long. The older I get, the more I appreciate this gift of my grandmother’s presence – even if by phone and letter.
I look forward to carving out some time this winter to read the books she has read and calling her for a book club conversation – to hear her wisdom and perspective as much as possible. For while I am in a busy season of life; a wife, mother, full-time employee – I am also the granddaughter of an exceptional woman and I want to soak in moments with her however I can. What better way to do this than through conversations of our mutual love of history and books.
Happy Birthday, Grandma! XOXO
(Pictured, my grandmother and grandfather at their Engagement Party.)