Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ode to grandmas

My mom is going to be a grandma soon (twice!) and it's gotten me thinking a lot about grandmas and the special role they play in a kid's life. Both of my grandmas have passed on, but both fulfilled their roles in their own unique ways that continue to live on today.

My Grandma Rushton died when I was 10, and she was battling cancer for most of my memory of her, so I never got to know the woman with the fiery personality who raised 7 boys (and 1 girl; well, 2, actually . . .), who played mercilessly at cards, and who could cook and sew better than anyone around. I often feel cheated that I never got to have an adult conversation with her or ask her to make my wedding dress for me, or even know what it was like to be around her when she wasn't putting on a brave face.

As short as her time was with her grandkids, she made the most of it. She made everything . . . magical--there is no other word for it. From Superbowl parties to Easter egg hunts to Labor Day festivities, we could always count on something happening at Grandma Rushton's house, even for the kids who didn't want to listen to boring adult talk. Those parties were special simply because she was there.

Christmas was the best, though. She went all out with the decorations; a simple Christmas tree and one string of lights around the house wasn't enough for her--she bedecked her house in enough lights that people made her house a regular stop when they were cruising around town looking at Christmas lights, and her house was full of cool decorations, my favorite of which was the little village under the Christmas tree, complete with a small train riding on tracks around the tree. We celebrated every Christmas Eve with the Carter/Rushton cousins. Grandma would spend all year Christmas shopping and making gifts by her own hand so that all of her grandkids could get their own individualized presents. The anticipation for present time was almost unbearably painful for us kids, and in turn the parents because the kids were running around like energizer bunnies for hours on end, but finally, just as it was starting to get dark, we would gather in a huge circle in the living room and start the present process. And I don't know about the rest of my siblings/cousins, but I was never disappointed. The presents I got from her are still some of my most prized possessions.

We still try to continue the traditions Grandma Rushton started, but for many years the magic was gone, even though kids for years were still getting presents for Christmas that she had bought and stashed away before she died. Her spirit still lives on though, and sometimes I swear that she's there when we're having our annual Christmas party.

My Grandma Jackson was very different from my Grandma Rushton. She raised a family of giggling girls rather than a band of rough-necked boys; she was short, overweight, and always wore mumus; and she was submissive rather than sassy. In my eyes, she was the picture of grandmotherhood.

She passed away the day before my 22nd birthday, so I have 2 decades of memories to cherish. There were always 2 expectations when entering Grandma's house: gummy bears would be distributed, and Popsicles/ice cream would be waiting for us in the freezer outside. She faithfully gave each of her unmarried grandkids 2 dollars every year for their birthday (sometimes she was off by about 6 months or so, but she always got around to it), she was the woman we ran to when we had emergency sewing projects, and she taught me and Kimberly how to make the world's best fudge. And, of course, she spent a lot of her time giggling. Even during the last years of her life, she was still able to find things to smile about.

She dedicated her life to being super mom/grandma, and I think the relationship she had with her girls has had a direct influence on the relationship I've had with my mom and sisters.

So while I no longer have a grandma to visit on Sundays, people that important can't leave without leaving something behind. So here's to the next generation of grandmas, what I hope will be many, many years of baby quilts, barbecues, Christmases, family reunions, and giggles. For the next several months, though, I hope Grandma Rushton and Grandma Jackson enjoy playing with the 2 newest additions to our family, because we're sure eager for them to get here.


  1. I wish I had met your Grandma Rushton. She sounds awesome.

  2. I think you two would have found kindred spirits in each other. :)