I know I’m lucky to still have you in my life—you were a young mom and so was your daughter, so the generation gap has always been slight in our family. You never felt old enough to be a grandmother. Even now, when I’m almost 40 and you’re in your 80s, you seem eternally young. Part of that is mindset, part of that is genetics, part of that is sheer determination on your part.
Even now, you’re industrious and capable. Your hands are always a blur of yarn and hooks and stitches and knots, whipping up blankets for great-grandbabies and crocheted snowflakes to give as Christmas gifts. And when they aren’t busy with yarn, they are sifting flour and rolling out pie dough. You are so very generous—not only with your creations and baked goods but with your time and attention, your care and love.
You have given me so many beautiful gifts over the past four decades—a candlewick blanket that’s more art than bedspread, a fringed prayer shawl in my favorite shade of green, a crocheted throw you made for my 10th birthday, lacy doilies, homemade pot scrubbers, countless apple pies, and dozens and dozens of cookies.
But the best gift you’ve ever given me is the gift of my own mom.
She has your spirit of generosity, your desire to give. Although she never picked up the habit of crochet (and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen her make an apple pie), she is always remembering those she loves with gifts. She learned how to make Christmas an extravagant affair from your example—you both celebrate it with such gusto and love. It is a ritual of affection and inclusion when you lavish your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren with thoughtful gifts that are more about communicating love than commercialism.
You showed her how to love those outside your family circle. You were never stingy with your affections—I grew up watching you reach out to those in need of family, pulling them into the fold and offering them a sense of belonging—sometimes going so far as to invite them to our holiday gatherings. She has your sense of hospitality, my mom, and she taught me to value the same, to seek out those in need and offer them the gift of family.
You taught her to see the best in people, to search for the goodness where others might overlook it, and I’m trying to do the same. I am proud to carry on in this tradition, and both of you have welcomed our foster children with open arms and apple pie.
You taught her to foster creativity and ingenuity in herself and others.
And you taught her the true value of education—not necessarily an advanced degree (you had only a high school diploma yourself, despite your obvious intelligence and ability), but the pursuit of knowledge and practical skills that improved quality of life.
You have shown great strength in the face of adversity. You carried the weight of caregiving and grief with grace and patience—for you they were often simultaneous burdens. You cared for your husband, whose stubborn resolve struggled against a grim diagnosis for decades until at last his heart gave out. You cared for your children, afflicted with the same heart troubles, burying one of them in infancy and supporting the others through childhood surgeries and pacemakers in their adult years.
You are no stranger to worry, but neither are you a stranger to faith. You held on to hope when the storms of your life raged. Mom carried those same burdens and that same heart defect herself, passed to one of her own children and one of her grandchildren.
She bears the same cross of worry, but she presses on, following the same path of faith.
Though my own heart appears to be pumping just fine, you have carried me through my own health troubles. When epilepsy robbed me of a driver’s license for four years, you were there to take me to work, to the grocery store, to my appointments. Though my seizures certainly were a burden, you never made me feel like one. Instead, you reframed it as a blessing. You used it as an opportunity to visit your sister while you waited for me to finish my shift at work, and you relished the time we had together, just the two of us, driving countless interstate miles and gravel roads.
You prioritized family above all else, and you taught my mom to do the same.
I know our time together is drawing to a close—we are not given forever; we’re not even guaranteed tomorrow. But like you, I want to make the most of the time we have. I want to express my gratitude while there is still time to do so.
Thank you, Grandma—you have given me such a beautiful gift.
I want you to know your impact, to see the good you have done. Thank you for giving my mom such a tremendous capacity for love and care. You prepared her well for motherhood, and it is my hope to carry on in the same tradition.
All my love,