Friday, May 7, 2010

Grandmothers are Mothers, too

A Tale of Two Grandmothers

When we were expecting our first grandchild, friends asked me, “What will your grandchild call you?”

Interesting, because I never realized grandparents had a choice. My flippant remark was “Mrs. Yeary,” but of course, I wasn’t serious. When our first grandchild began to speak a few baby words, his dad would say, “Go to Granny.” The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Granny? I think not. I instructed him to say “Grandmother” to his young son, so the child would know that was my chosen name.

“Granny” was my daddy’s mother, and every grandchild called her by that term. The grandmother on my mother’s side answered to “Mama.”

Whether a Granny, a Grandmother, a Mama, or a Mimi, she holds a special place in the grandchild’s life. I inherently knew this because of my feelings for my grandmothers. Our first grandson—the only kind of grandchildren we have—made a deep impression upon my heart, and with that unique feeling came the realization that perhaps I did not know how to be a good grandmother.

What does it take?

Granny lived in a country house that lacked many amenities, such as running water and indoor plumbing. God love her, she also lacked teeth and good health. She died before I turned eight, but the memory of her is strong. Her soft and puffy lap held me, her plump arms circled my small body, and her kisses upon my cheek felt gentle and sweet. I never remember her scolding me or swatting my behind. She told me I was a good girl, a sweet girl, and she hugged me when she said it.

My strongest memory is sleeping in her big feather bed. When she lay down, I rolled toward her, snuggling up and sleeping soundly. She’d pat my shoulder and say, “Nitety-nite.”
I followed her to the chicken coop to gather eggs, to the orchard to find pears on the ground, and to the garden to pick tomatoes and string beans.

Mama was entirely different. She lived in town, wore a business dress, hosiery, pumps every day, and worked as manager of a huge laundry in the basement of a big hotel. I visited her because my parents did, not because I looked forward to seeing her. The day never turned out to be as much fun as it did at Granny’s house, because Mama had nothing to offer in comparison. Not once did she hold me on her lap or tell me I was a good girl.

However, when the afternoon ended, Mama always took me to her bedroom. There, she opened the top drawer of her chest of drawers, and allowed me to stand on tiptoe and look in. Dozens of packages of gum, Juicy Fruit and Double-Mint, covered the bottom. I got to choose one, and while I held it in one hand, she’d tell me to open the other. Then, she’d place a nickel in my palm. I said thank you, and that was it. But I loved those packages of gum and that nickel. That’s how I remember her.

Over the years, I learned very well how to be a good grandmother. What memories do I have of my two grandmothers? The hugs? The undivided attention? The gifts? Everything I remember of both of mine, even though the two women differed so much, can be summed up in one phrase—unconditional love. Was I always a good girl, just because my grandmother said so? Probably not. Did I deserve all the attention because I was special? No. Was my due in life to receive gifts? Absolutely not.

Both my grandmothers made me believe I was worthwhile and important to them, by either actions or words. Not once did one of them say, “Bad girl.” Or “Shame on you.”

This grandmother business is easy after all. We have three young grandsons, all brothers, and believe me, they can be a trial. Subconsciously, though, I refrain from saying, “Look what you did!” “I told you to stop slamming the door.” “If you make a mess again, I’ll have to punish you.”

No, instead, I say, “Come here, sugar, and let me show you how to close the door quietly.” Or “That’s all right, baby, I’ll get some paper towels and you can help me clean up the spilled milk.”

Nothing in this world can top a little boy throwing his arms around my waist, lifting his face with his lips puckered to give me a kiss. Nothing is more precious than a small boy bringing a book I’ve already read to him fourteen times, and saying, “Grandmother, will you read this book to me?” And when I sit on the sofa, he scrunches as close as he can to snuggle while we read. My heart bursts with joy when the 12-yr-old who now is taller than I am, runs down the skyway, saying, “Grandmother!” and nearly knocks me down with his hugs.

Ah, the joys of grandparenting. We can love, spoil, and indulge, and at the end of the day, hand them back to their parents to clothe, feed, and nurture. I wouldn’t take anything for my own two children. But grandkids? They’re a special breed all together.

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print
Published by: The Wild Rose Press


  1. Hi Celia,
    Wonderful blog and so true. I can relate to all you have said about our grandmothers. Hey, I am a granny myself. I had three sons but luckily ended up with a grand daughter. Sweet little angel that she is.


  2. Mine was Oma, and she was like your Granny. Full of hugs and kisses and unconditional love. She adored me. For the first time, Celia, you've made me wonder what it's like to be a grandma. I've never really thought about it before. Thanks for the glimpse into your grandmotherhood :)

  3. Ah Celia, that brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure you are the best grandmother in the world. Your grandsons are so lucky to have such a special person in their lives.

    I'm looking forward to becoming a grandparent. My first grandbaby arrives this August. I can't wait!

    Happy Mother's Day and Grandmother's day to you, my friend.

  4. Celia, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful memories with us. I had a "Granny" and a "Bopshie" who we called "Boppie" for short. Bopshie was Polish for Grandmother. Granny was fun and always smiling and Bopshie was much more serious, but my love for both was strong.


    PS - Happy Mother's Day and Grandmother's Day to you.

  5. Beautiful, Celia. We always said Grandma. I had one who was truly Grandma and one I barely knew. I think the only prerequisite of being a good grandparent is to love them and let them know you do. Everything else is just that. ;-)

    By the way, I already have a good collection of books to read to my grandkids ... when I have them!

  6. Oh, Celia, what a lovely post. I spent today with my Grandma - who is Oma now, to my kids. She has eleven great-grandkids! She was a wonderful grandma, and I'm planning to pretty much copy what she did. I hope I come close. Happy Mother's Day to you! See you on Friday. (yay!)

  7. I have seven grandchildren and they are all special in their way. I can't say I'm the best, but I try.
    Love and blessings

  8. Lovely, Celia,

    I remember my grandmother calling me Tony and telling us her false teeth was going to get us, she was the more outspoken grandmother, the one on my dad's side, was quiet but she'd do little things to let us know we were loved.
    I'm a grandmother who gets to spoil and love, but I am also the mom figure to a grandchild of mine. so I get to be the disciplinarian too. Makes one wondered what legacy I'm leaving.

  9. I have to tell you Celia this post really touched me.
    My grandmother gave me unconditional love. I was named after her and I could feel her love for me radiating from her before I even got to hug her.
    One nite I was staying there and slept with my grandmother. They had fed me cabbage and well you know the result. That poor woman spent the nite next to me as I gassed her out.
    She told me it was all right because she loved my farts. Now that is unconditional love.
    When she died a part of me died too. But even if things got bad I always had her to look back on. The one person who loved me more than anything. I still see her face and wish I could hug her.

  10. MARGARET--We're lucky. Some grandmothers aren't allowed to be the grandmother they want to be. I think that's the saddest thing in the world. Celia

  11. LIANA--thanks! I love being a grandmother, but at one time, I thought we'd never have any grandchildren. Celia

  12. MAGGIE--Prepare yourself--it's like falling in love. Really, you have some of the same unique, giddy feelings as when you found the man you love. Celia

  13. Steph--you're so welcome. I love the name Bopshie for your grandmother! Celia

  14. LORAINE--thank you. Our grandkids have a grandma on the other side, and they've had a difficult time figuring out why there are two and who they are. We take it for granted they know. Celia

  15. Hi, Nikki--I remember our Oma. She's one of the best, and you will be, too. Can't wait til Friday! Celia

  16. RITA--seven! Three is all I can manage. I'm sure you're a great grandmother. Celia

  17. TINA--your grandmother sounds like a hoot.I suppose it would be odd to be the parent to a grandchild, but that's very common these days. You'll leave a wonderful legacy, I'm sure--a Christian one. Celia

  18. MARY--Your love for your grandmother comes through your statement. And you made me laugh!!! Now, that's REALLY unconditional love. Celia

  19. Aww, beautiful. I have almost no memory of grandparents at all, they had either gone before I was born or when I was very small, and my kids have no grandparents either - so I guess it's going to be up to me and hubby to get it right when our turn comes! Think I'll know who to listen to when I need grandmotherly advice, Celia - I mean, how to be one!

    Jane x

  20. Dearest Jane--it comes naturally. Really. Your heart is so full of love, you just turn to mush! There's something peculiar about a tiny baby you didn't give birth to, but it belong to you anyway--a birth of the heart. Celia

  21. Oh, Celia, thanks for sharing your memories of your grandmothers. Mine were very different from each other, too. However, we kids always knew we were loved in that special way.

  22. SAVANNA--You're welcome.I'm sorry for people who don't have good memories of grandmothers. Celia

  23. Like you, Celia, I love my son dearly, but those grandchildren are so special there aren't enough words to explain it. My grandma was like your country granny -- offering love and encouragement as she taught us (not forced us) to do chores and make something fun out of the hardest job. I hope and pray I can be half as good to my grands as she was to me.

  24. Rebecca--some grandmothers entertain their grandchildren to death. I try to have mine do things.Peel potatoes, set the table, sweep my porches, water my shrubs, stack the books, clear the floor, make your bed. But I do spoil a little--buy new clothes, give a quarter for the candy machines in the mall because Mom won't,order pizza for a family party, give ten dollars each for the savings (they're very tight with their money--good!!!). Just love them. Celia