Grandma.

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My Grandma is a special part of my life. From before I could remember, she was always going out of her way to make us feel loved.

My Grandma has many gifts; she has an incredible talent to make others feel valued.

My Grandma makes others feel needed. She and my Grandpa always invite us over to their pool during the summer. When we were younger, she would give us each a colorful bowl to collect the raspberries we would glean from their bushes. She made us feel special, telling us that we could help her makes some special jam and desserts if we could collect the raspberries for her. My Grandma always had a way of making others feel special; she gave us little jobs to make us feel important and needed. Even though we ate half of the raspberry inventory before bringing it back to her, she would smile, thank us, and let us watch with wide eyes as she transformed the fruit into sweet, delicious jam, or colorful desserts. In the mornings, she sends me mirror selfies of her outfits, asking me if her outfit is Kelly-approved. My Grandma knows that I love style, and it means so much to me that she makes an effort to think of me and include me in her thoughts; she gives me the opportunity to be proud of and use a strength that I have. My Grandma flourishes in her ability to make others feel valued, and she helps others bloom because of this gift.

My Grandma is giving. There’s no secret that her love language is gifts. For the first week of school, my Grandma would always take us out to get special outfits; she loves fashion and style, and she loved helping us pick out something that would lift our confidence on the first day of school. I remember walking out of the dressing room to model every outfit we had selected, twirling around while she told me how beautiful I was. My Grandma is giving. Every Valentine’s day she would bring a small present to each grandchild (and that’s no easy feat; she has 15!). These wouldn’t just be quick selections from the dollar section; she would select something specific for each grandchild that would fit their interests. She embraces every opportunity to give; she is incredibly generous, always thinking of what she can give to bring a smile to others.

My Grandma celebrates the little things. There is never a reason to small to celebrate. She sees each day as a gift bursting with beautiful color. Something that might seem insignificant to the rest of the world is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate; she uses her creativity and spunk to turn a mundane routine into a wonderful tradition. My Grandma is always looking for a reason to paint an occasion as a beautiful celebration. At mid day, most people fill up their mugs with coffee and try to soothe their migraines from a busy day in hopes of pumping some energy back into their veins; my Grandma sees every 3 o’clock as a small party. As soon as the clock strikes 2:55, she jumps up, declaring, “It’s coffee break time!”, and comes back outside with colorful mugs steaming with hot coffee, and plates of sugary desserts. 2 hours later becomes happy hour, and she hops up to bring out plates of crackers, cheese, and other small snacks. My Grandma injects fun and brightness into the most common and mundane activities.

My Grandma is encouraging. I think my Grandma is everyone’s most sincere and genuine cheerleader. There could be a day where I am feeling down and questioning my abilities, and she will unknowingly erase any ounce of discouragement. A couple months ago, I got to model for a Honda commercial, and it aired for the first time a couple weeks ago. My Grandma would bring up the commercial in front of others, and compliment me. She would pick out the little details, such as my expressions, and point them out to others. My Grandma will compliment others in front of the people they care about; she should go into public relations, because I can promise that no one creates an image that makes you glow as much as she does. My Grandma encourages even after the hype of an accomplishment is over. Every single time my Grandma sees that Honda commercial, she sends a group message to my family saying, “I just saw Kelly’s Honda commercial on the 5 o’clock news! Good job, Kelly!” When my brother and my cousin won state championships in football, she didn’t drop it a week after it happened; she would bring it up again when it seemed that everyone else had seen it as an event of the past. Every time I write a note or a blog post, my Grandma will compliment me on my word choice and my ability to communicate my thoughts. Especially during the confusion of navigating vocation and college, her affirming words mean so much to me. My Grandma comments on the things that others don’t notice, and she has a way of making me feel more confident about my abilities.

My Grandma is fun. This Grandma knows how to have fun. Each day, my parents, siblings, cousins, boyfriend, and I get snap chats from my Grandma. Whether it’s a snapshot of the rain rolling off of the roof, a chronicle of her day with my Grandpa, or a selfie (one of my personal favorites has to be a selfie of her with a friend, labeled, “Shopping with friends!”), she adds a smile to my day. My Grandma will call the Grandkids to talk about the home run in the Tiger’s game. My Grandma will have my parents intensely swiping their chiming phones as they face off in a heated game of Ruzzle. My Grandma is on every form of social media excluding Vine and Twitter. This woman is hip! When my Grandparents took all of the children and grandchildren on a cruise, there was a special dinner called, “Captain’s Dinner”. Everyone was supposed to dress up for an extra special meal with entertainment. At one point, the dinner’s MC started playing “Low” by Flo-Rida, encouraging others to get up and dance. Our Dutch CRC table sat there self-consciously, until my Grandma got up and started breaking it down…and boy did she get low! My Grandpa laughed into his hand as my Grandma called from her bended knee position, “Okay…now I don’t know if I can get back up!”. My Grandma makes everything fun; she loves to dance, and she tells stories about blasting her Elvis albums as a teenager until her mother had enough and broke the record over her knee. My Grandma is sweet and sometimes shy, but she will surprise us with her spontaneous moments that have all of us breaking into  deep-dimpled smiles.

My Grandma is caring. My Grandma has a servant’s heart; she is always looking out for others. Whether it’s making a delicious meal and dessert for the family, or picking up after a tornado swirl trail of the young grandkids’ playful and messy damage to a pristine home, she doesn’t complain, and she doesn’t put a spotlight on her actions. My Grandma does things for others all the time, and she doesn’t do it to make herself look good, she does it because the love in her heart can’t help but overflow. There is no task that she sees as beneath her; everything she does, she does for others. She puts herself on the back burner to give love to others.

My Grandma is strong. My Grandma, like me, is indecisive. She likes to take a supportive role rather than claim leadership. This shifted when my Grandpa was diagnosed with ALS 4 years ago. At first slowly, but then all too quickly, my Grandma had to begin taking on the roles that she had never played. Once a chatty shot-gun passenger, she became the driver. Once the receiver of yellow-dot sticker gifts from my Grandpa’s shopping trips, she began to button his shirts for him and slide on his moccasins. My Grandma has faced more pain than a mother and a wife should ever endure. My Grandma lost a beautiful son when he was responding to a police call, and she was forced to live her life without one of it’s most precious centerpieces. My Grandma has taken on roles that she never planned on accepting, and has filled more shoes than she ever wanted to fill. Each day, she cares for my Grandpa, and each day she relies on prayer and the Grace of God. I have learned so much about strength, commitment, love, and dedication from my Grandma; she is like superwoman. My Grandma takes the sourest lemons of life and turns them into the sweetest lemonade. Instead of living a bitter life when she lost her son, she and my Grandpa began to help run a grief share group, helping others cope with life’s painful losses. When she is stressed or stretched thin, she finds a way to dance in the rain of life’s most brutal and relentless thunderstorms. My Grandma has taught me to run out into the storm with my favorite pair of rain boots, and spin around, catching the droplets in my mouth, and feeling each drop kiss my skin. My Grandma has taught me how to embrace every obstacle life throws at me, and she has taught me by example that the Grace of God is enough to sustain.

Thank You Grandma, for the lessons you teach, the love you give, and the light you bring! Happy Birthday! 

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