Now that I’m a grandmother, I spend a lot of time thinking about my own grandparents.

That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate them when they were alive, but I find that I’m able to see things from their perspective now. I sometimes wish I could go back in time so I could do a few things differently. I know I would spend more time just listening, soaking them in.

I understand now how it really is the little things adding up to be the big things that will be remembered and passed on for generations. The times that seem so insignificant you don’t even notice while they are happening are the important times. 

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Days spent running around the yard in my bare feet, stopping to climb under a magnolia tree to feel its coolness and to pretend I was inside my own castle. Glancing up at the way the sun shone through its leaves and huge white flowers is a memory that will be forever etched in my mind. And it didn’t cost a thing.

Life just wasn’t rushed at my grandparents’ house. I had a lot of time to play.

Being given a bowl to take outside to fill with blackberries from the bushes that surrounded my grandparent’s property. Eating quite a few before reluctantly handing that bowl over and then standing on a chair in the kitchen just to watch my grandmother turn those berries into a delicious pie. Those blackberries didn’t cost a thing, but the lessons I learned in her kitchen are still with me today.

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Decades later, while cleaning out my attic, finding words of love and affirmation written in my grandmother’s handwriting. Sitting down on the floor with my back to the wall as tears course down my face reading those words, realizing they were written by a woman who was once where I am now, who lived the life I’ve been living. Understanding finally dawning that she wasn’t always just my grandmother and loving her all the more for knowing it. Her words are priceless to me, but they didn’t cost her a thing to write.

I’m the grandmother now. I see things from the other end of life.

Creating memories is important to me, but I’m growing increasingly aware of the fact that they aren’t mine to be made. They are for the babies. Already I hear them talking about “Remember when?” and I have to chuckle. Time, like age, just can’t be understood until you’ve experienced a lot of both.

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And time is something we don’t get back. I’m grateful for every single memory I made as a child with my grandparents. I pull them out, dust them off, and treasure them. Memories don’t have to cost a thing to make, but they will end up, one day, being a gift you didn’t even know you were being given.

Sandy Brannan

Sandy Brannan, author of Becoming Invisible, So Much Stays Hidden, Masquerade, and Frozen in Time, is a high school English teacher. Creating memories with her grandchildren is her idea of a perfect day. You can follow Sandy and read more of her writing at https://sandybrannan.com  and .