What's Better Than a Grandma?

A Mother's Day tribute to all the wise women who pass along stories and lessons and serve as great role models. 

by Joan Stommen • More.com Member { View Profile }

What's better than Grandmas? Great-grandmas, of course. If we are lucky enough, we will have the privilege of achieving this status some day.

All five of my grandchildren have known their great-grandmothers. I recently posted about losing my mom Donna, and shared photos of my grandkids sitting with her. The twins were almost 3 when she died so they have recollections of that lady's lap they sat upon. The older kids remember visits to her house, talking with her on the phone and the money tucked in a card on holidays.

Sadly, my son-in-law recently lost his grandmother; the Littles’ other great-grandma. Francis also lived out of state, but kept a presence in their lives with Christmas and Birthdays cards, phone calls and visits when they came to town. She was such an elegant lady; always standing straight and proud. I always envied her posture.

The older girls are lucky. They still have their great-grandma whom they call Nanny. She lives cross country from them, but they keep in touch by phone and email and have visited her several times. Louise (yes, they all have "real" names as the kiddos say) recently added a new title — great-great-grandmother! Can you imagine? She is able to hold the child of her eldest grandson. Fannnnnntabulous!

Once upon a time, these women were young moms. Eventually, they became grandmas to some very special men and women, who, as time and fate would have it, helped to grow and enrich MY family. This is the miracle of growing along. These are the threads that create ancestral trees and family stories. Knowing their great-grandparents is a child's first link to history and the cycle of life.

These women had careers, skills and talents. Donna was a big city girl, working in clothing and home good stores for years and eventually becoming a department manager. My kids love to recall how she'd teach them and their cousins to play cards when they stayed over. Francis and Louise were raised in the country, and helped oversee farm communities after marriage. Francis was a homemaker, acquiring self-sustaining skills long before sustainability became the in word. Her two grandsons remember how she loved to play and fish with them, and never missed their baseball and basketball games. Louise helped with harvesting and feeding the farm hands and guess what? She also found time to become a nurse. My daughter-in-law had the best of times running around and playing in the mud on the farm and listening to Nanny's funny stories. 

All three not only shared a love of reading, but managed to pass it down through every generation. I see it on display every day as each of my grandkids devour book after book as soon as the magic combination of letters + sounds = words kicks in. Long before the days of journaling and book clubs, these great-grandmas encouraged their grandchildren to write about what they read. And as those kids grew older, they’d discuss the classics with grandma!

Donna and Francis lived for 88 years. What a wonderful life they had and what wonderful treasures of the heart they left for their children and grandchildren. Louise is 85 and still going strong. She loves card games and parties, and recently she moved to another house to be closer to that new great-great-grandbaby.

I always say I'm a good grandma because I learned from my grandmothers — and my two great-grandmas as well! They both passed away by the time I was 10, but I remember my grandmas telling me stories about them and having their pictures in frames on the China cabinet. This is my job now, mine and my two co-grandmas. We need to keep these rich legacies alive and fresh and important to our beautiful grandsons and granddaughters; and some day, God willing, we too will become great-grandmothers!

I know my fab five will do the same for me. I hope they'll recall how I enjoy growing each day as I learn from them; how, instead of growing old, I say I'm just growing along.

Let this be a Mother's Day tribute of sorts because "so much of who we are is based on where we come from." Let's remember and honor great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers everywhere.

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