5 Lessons from my 94 Year old Grandma

IMG_9743  This week I went to visit my grandma in the nursing home. When I’m not working, I try to join my dad and see her once a month (she lives 1.5 hours away).

After having children, I really appreciate these visits and the walking life lesson that is my grandma.

5 Life Lessons From My Grandma:

  1. “You only need a man to make you tea when you are sick.” Grandma once told me this when I had come to visit her in high-school and was crying over a broken relationship. While I’m sure grandma was being a bit blunt, she does make some points. What I took from this conversation was that you shouldn’t rely on a man. You can ask him to help you when you are sick, but as a strong woman, you should be able to stand on your own two feet.

Grandma was able to do this as she was a widow from the time I was four. I’ve worked to also follow Grandma’s model. Up until this last year, Grandma didn’t even want someone helping her around (“I don’t need that wheelchair, I’m not crippled!”).

Even though I’m married, I want to make sure I model for my daughters the importance of being able to take care of yourself. That includes financially, as well as the capability to run all household tasks (or know a phone number of someone who could do it). Over the years I’ve worked to understand taxes, investing, basic household maintenance, etc.

The second part of that is being happy while being alone. Lots of women preach girl power, but are miserable unless they have a man to define them. Grandma didn’t need a man and showed me that you should make yourself happy. Whether it was watching Golden Girls and doing word searches like Grandma, do what fulfills you and makes you happy.  Don’t fill your voids with a man.

Grandma showed me all these things could be done by a woman AND that a woman can be happy doing these things alone!

2. You’re never too old to love teddy bears! My grandma simply loves teddy bears. When she lived in her own place she had a “bear room,” littered with every type of bear imaginable. They were all over her house…living room, kitchen.. I think she may have even had a bear watching you in the bathroom. Now that Grandma is in a nursing home, she’s had to limit her bears, but they are still there. She even had one attached to her walker. At 93, Grandma just loves bears!

I see these bears as a symbol of her childhood and that’s why I say that you’re never too old to love teddy bears. There is always something from your childhood that you should hold close. It’s our youth….the simple days. Grandma showed me it’s okay to preserve a part of that youth and carry it with you into old age.

Now I don’t have the teddy bears, but I carry with me many memories of childhood. My own symbol of my youth? It’s probably shown in what aspects of teaching and parenting that make me happy. I love coloring, crafting, and planning many adventures. There is definitely a kid inside me still, and Grandma showed me that it’s something to embrace. Grandma showed me it’s okay to remember that youth and keep it with you.

3. The best part of the day really is the morning. Grandma never sleeps in. She was always up at 5 am. When I would go to visit Grandma in high school and college for a week (Grandma visits were still cool with this woman), I would do the typical teenager morning routine. Grandma wouldn’t see me until 9 or 10 am. Grandma always said I was missing the best part of the day. I thought she was just a crazy ol’ grandma, but as I have gotten older I realize….Grandma was right!

There is just something about that 5 am hour. Maybe it’s because now I’m a mom and that is the only time I get to myself (how else would these blog posts get written), but I realize Grandma had something here. Waking up with the sunrise in winter or the sun just peeking out in summer, I feel like I can tackle a full day of challenges…whatever they may be. I often wonder, as Grandma did, how everyone can keep sleeping when the day has begun.

4. Sometimes you just have to tell it like it really is. Now Grandma didn’t say these words to me, but she sure showed me this through her actions. Grandma isn’t afraid to tell it as she sees it. People at the nursing home think she is “funny,” her children shudder and think she is “mean,” and me… well, I realize the only time I don’t like it is when the truth is said to me.

Take for example a few years ago, I came to a family get together with near black hair. It was Grandma who said, “you look like a street walker.” Maybe not the nicest thing, but looking back… that wasn’t quite my best hairdo.

Grandma showed me that you can’t go around trying to please everyone. Sometimes you just have to say what you are thinking. Then the people who are around you are there for the right reasons. It’s too much work in life being fake, saying things to please others, and being worried what others will think of your actions. Grandma showed me to just “let it all out” and I appreciate that lesson. Just like Grandma, I want people to know that what you see is what you get when it comes to a relationship with me.

5. Appreciate Life. Watching Grandma these days I’ve come to appreciate life. Grandma doesn’t talk much about the end of it, except to say that she doesn’t need to make it to 100 (when we tease her that she is still going strong). But growing up with Grandma and watching her now is just another reminder of how fleeting life can be. It seems like just yesterday we were making homemade noodles and popcorn balls in her kitchen. Now when I see Grandma, it’s in her one-room nursing home.

Grandma doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She says she lived a good life and watching her, I know this is true. I see a woman who gave a lot and I know that I have tucked away many precious memories from my time growing up with my grandma. Grandma showed me the importance of making it a good life so that those you leave behind are left with memory-filled hearts.

I also see the way Grandma looks at Tyler when I bring him. I see her appreciation for new life firsthand.



Not to get all Lion King on you, but in that small tiny room in a nursing home, the circle of life is present watching Grandma hold her great-grandson.

I appreciate all the lessons Grandma has taught me over the years. I hope to pass these similar lessons on to my children and grandchildren!

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