I recently found out some things about my grandmother that I didn’t know. I’m trying to figure out if I had heard these details before and just forgot, or if they are in fact new to me. Either way, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t know more about her sooner.
We called her Grandma Gladys. One of my cousins couldn’t quite pronounce that name at a young age; all he could get out was “Gaga”, and that name stuck, too.
I knew she was a teacher, but I thought it was at the high school level. I didn’t know she had a master’s degree in English and also taught at Oklahoma State. A university professor in my family tree! My grandfather, her husband, also taught at OSU and was some kind of dean there — he even has a scholarship named after him. What kind of family was I born into?
Of course, I knew my grandmother loved OSU. I would catch up on the news of the football team before going down to see her on holidays, so I would know how she was feeling. However, she not only followed the football team, but baseball, wrestling, and probably just about every other collegiate sport, too.
I knew Grandma Gladys liked to write. As a child, though, I thought all she wrote were birthday cards, lengthy Christmas cards with poems about her family in them, and a couple of stories about us. What I didn’t know is that she wrote articles for magazines I’ve heard of, like Ladies Home Journal. She’s a published author! Who knows what she would have done with her own blog.
I knew she was dramatic and could tell a great story. I discovered, however, that she founded and directed a drama group in her church called “The Wesley Players”.
All this is making me think about the legacy I have received. A grandmother who writes, acts, and teaches. I guess I should no longer be surprised that these are things I like to do, too. And yet I didn’t know that she was a source for these things, and I wonder what her sources were. From where do we inherit our desires and abilities? Perhaps it was built in to me, or maybe I absorbed it while listening to her weave a story, or watching her eyes light up as I told her one of my own.
My grandmother died on Thanksgiving Day. We got to see her that morning in the nursing home, to say good-bye. She wasn’t doing too well, and I was thinking that this might be the last time I got to see her. All the same, it was bittersweet to hear the news that she had passed. She was always so full of life, and now she is experiencing the Fullness of Life.
Every time I sit down now to write something, I think of her. In some ways, it makes it difficult to write. Now I think, what would Grandma Gladys think of what I’m writing? Is it good enough? Would she approve? But even as I write these words, I remember her joy and appreciation at hearing of the slightest accomplishment I had done. She was always so very impressed at any little thing that it made me feel like I had scaled Mount Everest, rather than just got an A on a paper.
And maybe that’s the most enduring legacy. Grandma Gladys made me feel I could do anything, that she had the utmost confidence in me, that I was sure to succeed. She passed this on to my mother, who has never stopped making me believe that I could do anything I wanted to, and would do it well.
Solomon tells us that a good man leaves an inheritance to his chidren’s children. This good woman has done that, and more so. I am passing on the legacy to my own children: the love of family, and the love of story, both of which were so much a part of my grandmother’s life.