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Mothering Lessons From My Grandma Wanda

This is the speech I made for my grandmother’s memorial in December 2014, along with the video slideshow that I made for the service.

As most of you know, this year our family was blessed with a new addition – baby Lucas!

Now that I’m a new mom, I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on my own childhood memories, especially the time that my sister and I spent with our grandma Wanda.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the lessons that I learned from grandma about being a mom.

She taught me about work ethic – we used to set up a “restaurant” in the basement, called “Club Swampy” where my sister Beth and I would take turns waiting tables – serving grandma and grandpa Dr Pepper and cookies.  And other times we would play school, and I would teach everyone algebra lessons on the chalkboard.

She taught me about creativity – sometimes we would go to Hobby Lobby and get craft supplies. Once I re-painted the bathroom with floral designs using stencils and stamps….. I did a terribly sloppy job, but she loved it anyway and kept it up for years and years.

She taught me about cooking – giving me free reign over the kitchen to cook whatever I wanted. Mini pizzas, cookies, pies, cakes…. It took me years to really figure out what I was doing, but she supported me all the same, and loved whatever it was that I tried to make.  And of course, most importantly, to always wash my hands and keep the kitchen clean.

She taught me about girls’ nights – taking time out from our busy lives to enjoy ourselves. Once a month when dad and grandpa had their time with the guys, she would take us out. We would have dinner, go shopping at the mall, or have ice cream… but it was our special time to spend together.

She taught me to be prepared – she always had her purse stocked with the essentials. Lotion, makeup, gum, tissues, and of course plenty of Hershey’s chocolate!!

She taught me to make sure that your kids have an AWESOME dad to look up to. She loved and supported our grandpa Bill with all her heart, and raised her son to be a great dad as well. This year, she got to see him become a grandpa!

She taught me the value of family time – we spent time together at least once a month, and never missed a holiday together. No matter what we were doing – whether it was going out to look at Christmas lights, having dinner at the country club, or in the family room at home – what was important was that we were spending time with each other.

She taught me to use my imagination – when I was little, she loved to play with us. Sometimes we would have Play-Doh tea parties and make all kinds of little “treats”…. whenever we left after a weekend with grandma, we always left a mess.  Messes can always be cleaned up later, but you can never get back the time with your kids, especially when they are little.

She taught me that mothers always worry – whether your children are one day old or fifty years old, you always worry about them. But it is only because you love them so much.

She taught me to have strength to overcome whatever life throws at you. Whether that was loss of a family member, battling cancer, or just being a shoulder to cry on for loved ones in their own hard times – she was a fighter.

Most importantly – she taught me LOVE.  ALWAYS say “I love you”, and never take your family for granted.

I’m glad that in her last days she was able to meet her great-grandson Lucas, and happy that she has gifted me with so many great lessons about life.  I hope that someday my son will think of me as a great mom too, the way that our dad and aunt Michele look up to their mother.

Grandma Wanda always loved angels – her home was filled with angel figurines and artwork. Now she has gone home to become our guardian angel.  We were all truly blessed to have known her.  Today we may be saying goodbye to her body, but her spirit lives on inside our hearts.

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