I have fond memories of both my grandmothers. In fact I can even remember my great grandmother and some of the things she impressed on me in my youth.
Today, grandmas have changed quite a bit. Most of them still work well into their sixties and beyond. Although most grandmas from the old days, worked hard right up until their dying days as well. They didn’t have cleaning ladies or people who would bring meals to their door. They continued cooking, washing windows and scrubbing floors even though their aging bodies had long since lost the battle of gravity.
Today, grandmas still offer a stellar amount of benefits to their grandchildren – just like mine did. I’d often visit my paternal grandma after working my part time job in downtown Milwaukee. She lived in an apartment on Wisconsin Avenue, and I loved getting into the rickety old elevator and praying that I’d make it to the third floor. The inside of her building reminded me of Tammany Hall in the movie Gangs of New York. It was indeed scary, but as soon as grandma opened the door to her apartment, the most amazing smells emanated out into the grungy hallway, inviting me in. Once inside, I was greeted with some wonderfully, fresh baked item and would sit on the handmade afghan laden couch and we’d visit – just talk for a while – and it was wonderful. This grandma worked right up to her retirement, and found joy in her remaining years, away from the sounds of the city to place up north. There was still nothing like her downtown apartment though.
My maternal grandmother was a hard working farm woman, who made her way through her childhood gathering buffalo chips for fuel and cutting wood for the fire. She was strong in more ways than one. I don’t recall her having any lack of strength, even into her 70s. I do remember spending summers with her on the farm. I recall a large metal cabinet she had right outside the newly installed bathroom. It was loaded with medicine of every kind known to man – everything from snake oil to mustard plasters were part of her medicine cabinet. She’d help me cut out pictures from the Sears Catalog and make them into paper dolls. I’d sneak a peek at her romance magazines, which were “hidden” from view. She’d come in to pray with me each night and there were times I didn’t recognize her. She’d often have her hair in curlers, her teeth were in a jar in the bathroom, and the weathered, wobbly skin on her arms shook as she walked. But those arms were always open and ready for hugs.
Today some grandmas treat themselves to fun vacations or go to the spa and receive massages and cellulite injections. Many are even sporting braces these days. We have access to better health care. We can go to the gym, if we decide to. Yet, when you get right down to it, we’re still grandmas. We love our grandchildren and would do just about anything for them. We will always have our arms open for hugs and even if those arms wobble, they’re full of love.