Two of my favorite people are my 4 year old daughter and my 90 year old grandmother, Lorenia Mattson. They share an ability to speak the obvious truth, a love for Jesus and a great laugh.
Our daughter’s first doll, a somewhat flat baby who giggles when you press her belly is aptly named Laughin’ Baby. It was her first baby because Grandma had the uncanny ability to see children grow and was frequently the first to applaud their new maturity while the rest of the family hadn’t caught up. My first perfume, at the age of 12, came from Grandma. Electric Youth by Debbie Gibson came in a bright pink bottle and frankly smelled like grapefruit bathroom cleaner but since Grandma asked what I wanted she delivered without mocking my choice and was the first to treat me like a young adult rather than a child.
My daughter has been taking piano lessons for a year mostly to honor the vision Grandma had of someone playing her mother’s piano. The piano, after years of neglect, sat in Grandma’s garage for awhile looking abandoned and honestly beyond repair. Grandma spent entirely more than the piano was worth to have it restored. I think Grandma saw broken people a lot like that piano, worth a great investment and never beyond repair.
People ask my husband and me why our child doesn’t have a firm bedtime. Usually I tell them it’s because I get home late and want to see her and she’s home all day so can sleep in. I think the truth might be because I never had a bedtime, which has to be passed down from Grandma to my dad. Any time the kids would go to Grandma’s to spend the night it involved dinner with lots of cheese, a few sitcoms for which Grandma would do commentary ” Kids, do you see what they are doing there on TV? God doesn’t like that, don’t do it when you grown up”. Then Grandpa would go to bed and Grandma would ask the question we were waiting for. Do you want to play a game? Of Course. She’d break out Rook, Phase 10, Trianamos or Skipbo, poor some root beer into crystal goblets, give us a plate of cashews and frozen cherries and then settle in to soundly beat us at whatever game we played. If by some amazing feat of luck we were winning, Grandma would start praying for good cards. God liked to answer the prayers of a woman who trusted Him in big things and small because she rarely lost. We’d finally go to bed late – around 1:00 am and we’d wake up in the morning to pancakes. Life was good at Grandmas. She was the first to explain the difference between rules that matter like honoring your parents, loving the Lord, helping people in need and reading your Bible and silly rules like bedtimes.
My 4 year old is clearly related to Grandma because they share favorite colors of pink, purple and anything golden. Grandma also loved green and she and Grandpa had a huge garden, strawberry patch, and green house full of aloe Vera plants. Most kids want Band-Aids for owies. We got stalks of Aloe Vera and a chewable Vitamin C.
Like all parents, we’ve been working on manners. Grandma had a clear view on the importance of manners but it could really be summed up in one action. Send a thank you note. I received a thank you from Grandma for Christmas presents the day before she died. It is framed in my office. My daughter will not have the privilege of growing up with Grandma cheering her on. But she does have a heritage to stand on that all the grandchildren share, one without pretense and full of joy.