At the tender age of 8 I was sent to California to live with my grandparents. We (my parents, younger sister, and I) were living in New York at the time, having migrated from the Philippines only two years before. Now, I’m sure you can imagine the culture shock for my mom who spent all her life in the warmth of a tropical climate only to face the brutal New York winters. I caught pneumonia one winter causing my parents to think that I was not ready to take on the Big City’s climate thus sending me packing to the more moderate climate offered by California. A few years later I was followed by my younger sister, then my mom and baby brother, then finally my dad who, as life had it, stayed working at United Nations for several years giving his family the chance at a better life. My grandfather passed away shortly after I moved in with them so since the 2nd grade, throughout my childhood and well into my teen age years, I was raised by my grandmother who, to this day at almost at 92 years young, continues to be the strong, spit-fire woman she always has been. The urban dictionary defines a spitfire as one who “says what she wanted without a care in the world…her angry words sting like fire.” Nothing describes my grandmother better. She’s the only woman I know who has retired from two careers…having retired from the second career twice.
She had an injury a few years ago causing her to need hip surgery (her kryptonite is her osteoporosis) from which she was never quite able to heal completely, confining her to a wheelchair and requiring the need for assisted living. But that hasn’t changed her spirit nor has it changed her attitude about God, her family, and life. She was never one to succumb to her circumstances, a lesson I’m still working earnestly to learn.
Shortly after she moved into the assisted living facility, we helped her move her things out of her house, purging what we could and keeping only the things she needed and considered valuable. Amidst her things and buried deep in her closet I found this jacket that she’s owned for years. I found myself sounding just like my mom when I saw it and told my daughter, “That jacket is older than you are.” But really, it is. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the jacket were older than I am.
But the sight of it brought back so many memories of my childhood and time I spent with my grandmother. I could still see her wearing it to church, or to parties. To her the jacket is old and out of style, but to me, it meant so much more. Putting it on I feel cloaked in her strength and wisdom.
I took it out for a spin on Saturday which helped me realize exactly what was missing, so I’m going to add a trimming detail to the waist in order to reduce some of the bulk from the batting and give it a more structured look.
I’ve learned so much from my grandmother, more than I can ever share in a single post. Here, however, are just a few Grandma-isms that are just too precious to keep to myself:
- On Men…
-collect and select
-if his fingernails are dirty and his socks aren’t white….pass
-clean cut, definitely clean cut
- On Food…
– if you can eat, then you can cook
– she personally knows kids in Africa who are starving
– pink potato salad (a family recipe actually started by my grandfather) takes two days to make, the potatoes, apples, and beets are diced to the exact same size, add chicken shredded/pulled by hand
- On Home…
– the parking space immediately in front of her house belongs to her, even if it IS street parking; so if you’re not family, don’t park there
-girls should know how to do their own handy work around the house
– it is possible to get whites, white again
– nothing beats a handwritten letter sent (and received) in the mail
– if it’s broken, fix it…don’t just throw it away
– always tip the garbage man and mailman on Christmas
– everything serves more than one purpose (envelopes make great wallets, paperclips will hold a broken hinge in place, and the foam tray from your meat packaging is great for catching water that runs from your house plants)
- On Life…THE GREATEST POWER WE WILL EVER POSSESS IS THE POWER OF PRAYER.