Tag Archives: Grandma

Flip Side: 92

I believe a good list is almost as good as a poem.   This one is in honor of my 92nd year old grandmother.

92 Things I love about My Grandma 

1.   She likes to hold hands.

2. A heritage of faithfulness.

3.  She asked for mexican food for her birthday dinner.  I love it when my husband cooks Mexican food.   This one involved grilled steak and shrimp and tomalito.   (That’s Spanish for corn and sugar and butter….ahh heaven).

4.   That my daughter wanted to buy Grandma a pillow pet.   The five-year old said “The best thing about getting old is you can play with toys again”.

5.  My grandma has Alzheimer’s but she still knows all our names.

6.   She still knows we love her.

7.   She calls my uncle the tall one.     

8.   She calls my brother-in-law the handsome one.

9.   She’s ninety-two and doesn’t have any grey hair.   

10.  She thinks motorcycles are cool.

11.  My best Christmas decorations were made by her.

12.  Everyone in the family has a handmade stocking.

13.   She likes to tell people that she was married to two good men.   She’s right.

14.   Grandma says the best decision in her life was to follow Jesus.   She’s right.

15.   She likes a good deal.  

16.   She loves free stuff.  It’s left over from years of shopping in the “missionary barrel”.

17.   She likes shrimp.

18.    Snickerdoodles.

19.  Dark chocolate.

20.   Ginger snaps.

21.   She remembers when chocolate chips were invented.

22.  And zippers.

23.   She learned how to drive as a young mom because she had to in order to drive her child to the doctor.  Brave woman.

24.   Grandma told me that the people at the nursing home got walkers just to show off.  

25.  She still walks all by herself.

26.  She likes Tiaras.

27.   and Disneyland

28.   and babies

29.   and backrubs.

30.    She wears very hip black Sketchers.

31.   I love her laugh

32.   her smile

33.   the twinkle in her eye.   

34.   It looks like my mother’s.

35.    Grandma has a very cool knit hat

36.    and a cat eye necklace

37.    and every card ever mailed to her by any child.

38.    When Grandma turned 80 she bought a computer and learned how to email.

39.   My cousin and I went down and taught her how.   Fun trip.

40.   We input her address book.   She has friends that span generations.  

41.   I love that my Grandma still gives monthly support to some Wycliffe Missionaries.

42.   Grandma has handmade beaded dolls given to her by people of the Comanche tribe.

43.    She doesn’t mind in my daughter plays with them.

44.   Grandma likes to talk about the trips her husband took her on.

45.   New York.

46.   He bought her a brass clock.  She calls it her brass lady.

47.   Scotland.

48.   Australia.

49.    Grandma knows what a blog is.   My sister asked her and she said “It’s like a journal on the computer.   Yup.

50.   Grandma reads my blog.   I like anyone who reads my blog.

51.    She says she likes it.

52.   Grandma smiles when we go visit.

53.   She smiles when we leave and says thank you.

54.   Grandma is big on manners.

55.   My cousin gave Grandma a digital photo frame.   She sits and watches it all the time.

56.   Grandma told my dad that she prays for the people on the frame.

57.   My grandma prays for me.

58.   I always liked Grandma’s white cat.

59.   Grandma and Grandpa used to have their clocks timed so none of them chimed on top of each other.  Very musical house.

60.   When Grandma turned 90 we went on a family cruise.   

61.   She likes to wear flowers.

62.   Smell flowers.

63.    I love my hand embroidered table-cloth full of flowers from Grandma.

64.   She thinks all my daughter’s jokes are funny.

65.   She loves to watch the five-year old sing.    So do I.

66.    She tells us she’s proud of us.

67.   Grandma believes in marriage

68.    hard work

69.   good food

70.  The Bible

71.   family.

72.  Grandma used to sew all my mom’s clothes.   How can you not love that?

73.   Grandma tells us she’s going to heaven.   

74.   Grandma expects us to be there too.

75.   Grandma loves handmade quilts

76.    quilted vests

77.    felt

78.    and good scissors.  My pinking shears are hers.

79.    Grandma loves convertible cars

80.   warm sweaters

81.   and new photos of family.

82.   Grandma can tell a story with the best of them.

83.   She’s pretty cute when she thinks you’re holding out information on her.

84.   Grandma likes pink fingernails

85.   sensible socks

86.   and halibut dinner.

87.   Grandma likes weddings

88.    and hugs

89.   and kisses.

90.   Grandma wanted peaches for her dessert.

91.    and the butter pecan ice cream.

92.  Her birthday wish when she blew out her candles.    “I wish we could have more family gatherings like this.”


To see the other side of 92 check out www.doncanonge.com.



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Time to show honor

I’m watching the clock.  I have to leave soon to head to the airport.   My parents are flying home and bringing with them my 91-year-old grandmother.   I”ve promised to come pick them up.

Grandma comes from solid German stock.    She believes in hard work, loyalty and generosity.  Grandma has been fiercely independent where help from people was concerned but unwaveringly dependent on God.   She spent most of her life serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.     This included time in Oklahoma supporting her husband as he helped develop a written language for the Comanche’ Indian Tribe and later oversaw Bible Translations for language groups throughout Alaska.   Grandma raised four kids on meager funds.    Her stories are of the uphill in the snow both ways variety.

Her first husband died when he was only 50 leaving Grandma a young widow.   Her second husband was fifteen years older than her when they married.    Both marriages lasted twenty-five years.  I remember Grandma arguing that she should qualify for a Golden 50th anniversary because two Twenty Five year marriages equaled 50 years of marriage.  I think she might be right.  

Her second husband had an amazing hobby. He built clocks. Kitchen Shelf clocks and Grandfather clocks were given as Christmas presents and wedding presents.   When I got married, Grandpa had reached the 90-year-old mark and was no longer building.   Grandma bought us a clock instead.  

Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a couple of years ago.  She’s a courageous woman.  I hope to be as graceful in aging as my Grandmother.   Recently though she’s lost track of time.   Her days and nights, weeks and months are all a muddle.    She has not forgotten who created day and night.   He’s still very much the one on whom she relies.    I take great comfort in the fact that God is who determines our days and while Grandma may forget He will not.  

Leviticus 19:32 also shows the heart that God has for the elderly. 

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. 

I love that showing respect for my grandmother shows God that I revere him.   So Grandma is headed to town.  For the first time in a long time, she’ll be surrounded by family.   Now its our turn to ignore the clocks, turn off our cell phones, and take the time to honor.

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Joy and Mourning

The whole family took a drive today.   An hour south on the freeway to visit my aunt and uncle.  I walked into their house and grinned at all my aunt’s Christmas decorations.   My daughter was enthralled.   My aunt has stuffed Christmas animals everywhere.  They sing. They dance.   A couple of penguins twirl about.  There are two dogs that flap their ears in time to Jingle Bells.  There was glitter and ribbons and tinsel and presents.   My four-year old danced with the penguins and repeatedly pushed each button.  At several points there were competing songs going on in the menagerie.   Slightly loud but tons of fun.  I looked in my Grandmother’s old bedroom.   She died on New Years Day last year.   I promptly burst into tears.

Ever notice that Christmas is like an amplifier?   Everyone works hard to have a perfect time, but sometimes in the midst of joy, sorrow feels sharper.   The first Christmas was no different.   I can’t imagine that spending the night in a barn watching his fiance’ give birth was exactly what Joseph had in mind.   Mary was clearly in pain due to childbirth but also I imagine she was relieving some difficult conversations with friends and family about her baby.   Jesus was feeling His first moments away from the glory of heaven in a fragile and helpless position.  Painful.  Lonely.

and yet

There were angels and choirs and visitors and gifts and promises and hope.  Jesus, fully God and fully man, also knew even at that time what the end of the story was about.  Redemption, peace, great joy.

Our society doesn’t know how to deal with sadness very well.    Sometimes I think the best thing to do is accept it, have a good cry and get back to the party.   John Piper, in the book Taste and See talks about how to deal with times of commingle joy and sadness in a section called “The simultaneous sound of laughter and weeping”.    I loved this line;

My prayer for myself and all of you is that our weeping might be deep but not prolonged.  And while it lasts let us weep with those who weep.  And when joy comes in the morning let us rejoice with those who rejoice.

That first Christmas had to be overwhelming.   I think Mary had the right approach to the balance of grief and amazement.  The Bible says in Luke 2:19 that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”.

Today, my family cried with me, gave me a big hug and then we opened presents.   My daughter got a new doll that giggles whenever she is moved.  We named her Pearl, my grandmother’s middle name.   The doll didn’t quit giggling.   Her young owner thought it was hilarious.   Pretty soon the whole table was joining in.  I was crying again but this time from laughing so hard.    It was a great day.   Lots to ponder.


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I win I win!

Very exciting news this morning.   I couldn’t wait to spread the word.  I just found out that I’m going to be incredibly wealthy!    And I didn’t have to do anything at all to win.

I had an email this morning that said “Your Email Address Has Won You 4.6 Million from UK Lotto”.    How fun.  I’ve never been to Britain but apparently my email address is working a night shift.  There is also a Prince in Dubai who wants to marry me so I can have his inheritance and help him flee the country.    I wonder if my spouse will mind.      And luck of all luck, an unknown cousin in Paris died and left me a million dollars!     I had to weed through emails promising to enhance various parts of my anatomy and quite a few random sales ads but there is the proof.  I’m headed to easy street.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother was convinced she was going to win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and a couple other off brand contests.    In between canning home-made grape juice, playing endless card games with us kids and running around after my grandfather, she’d spend time filling out entry forms and moving sparkly stickers form one page to another sure that this time she’d win.

Invariably, on Christmas we’d each get a present that we’d have asked for (Grandma was one who believed in asking and delivering) but we’d also count on opening at least one bizarre present.   Each of the girls would get diamonette jewelry with sparkle dust.  Each of the guys would get books on healing yourself through herbal remedies.   We’d smile.  Grandma would laugh and explain she had to buy them to qualify for the next level of the contest.

I believe in hard work and saving and building a future.  So did Grandma.  Somewhere along the line though all us kids also caught on to the “maybe we’ll win’  bug.

I recognize that statistically its more likely that I’ll contract TB than win the lottery.    Oh wait.  I already have dormant TB.  And I don’t buy lottery tickets.    We spent a year doing financial counseling at a homeless shelter.  I will never forget the family who had a $400 dollar a month discrepancy in their budget.  When pressed, they said, well we do have our bingo money, but that can’t go to bills.   Sad.

When we were engaged, my husband and I had to fill out a budget during pre-marital counseling.    Since my parents and I  had a start up business which paid next to nothing at the time and my husband was a preschool teacher, the income side of the budget was extremely flat compared to the expenses side.   Not a good way to start a marriage.

So one day, about two months before the wedding, I was at Bi-Mart.  They were giving out free lottery tickets.     It was a game where if you won you got $1000 a week for the rest of your life.   It was called lucky for life.   I was convinced I was going to win.   I told my fiance and my parents that God surely had provided and we would be fine.    They both looked worried for my mental health.

We didn’t win.   I was shocked.

My mother, however, was not shocked.  She found a great place for us to housesit and we had the first eight months of our marriage with no rent or house payments.    Bought our first house with a borrowed down payment in October of 1999.    Dug in and worked like crazy.  Paid the borrowed down payment off.     Have not bought a lottery ticket since.  I think this is probably good considering my clearly irrational thoughts during the lucky to life game.

In reality, I deleted this mornings emails and I’ve moved to an email with a filter.   It did make me think though.  I’m so very grateful that at Christmas I know the truth.    The very best Christmas present was the very first Christmas present given.  A baby.   A promise.   I win.    And so can you.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.    Luke 2:11


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Wondering, Loving and Praying

5:00 Wednesday PM:   Headed home.  Grateful for 4 day weekend.   Praying for friends and family.  Wondering if the traffic could go any slower.

6:00 Wednesday PM:   Putting together chairs.  Grateful for new furniture.   Wondering if anyone will notice if they wobble.   Hubby notices.  Hanging upside down trying to balance chairs.  Huh…made in China.  Praying for the persecuted church in China.

8:00 Wednesday PM:   Still putting together chairs.  Wondering if anyone will notice my hands have permanently cramped into the shape of an Alen wrench.   Grateful for my father who has worked with his hands his whole life.   Praying the doctor can help him with the new treatment for his curled fingers.

10:00 Wednesday PM:   Tucking in my daughter.  Loving her eyelashes, loving her goodnight prayers.   Wondering if she’ll ever have a sibling.   Praying for Christine in Rwanda.  Praying this other daughter will have a good night.

11:30 Wednesday PM:   Making cranberry sauce.   Loving the smells of cloves and cinnanmon.   Loving the sound the cranberries make when they swell and pop.   Making cinnamon rolls.  Grateful for 16 years of cinnamon rolls with this man standing beside me.   Praying for the marriages of friends and family.

8:00 am Thursday AM:    Running a mile.  Cold.  Wondering if a mile constitutes actual excersize enough to work off the meal headed my way.  Grateful for sidewalks, friendly neighbors and a track at the local school.   Wonder if the school tuition in Rwanda is caught up.

9:00 am Thursday AM:     Getting ready.  Blowdryer.   Its pink. Praying for a friend facing tests for cancer.  Loving my daughter’s little toes and big smile.  Grateful for warm clean water.   Praying for the 18 people headed to our house.

10:00 am Thursday AM:    Breakfast with family.    Loving the cream cheese frosting on warm cinnamon rolls.   Loving Greek yogurt, bagels, fresh fruit.   Hoping next year sausage and cheddar are back in my diet.   Praying for family not present at the table.

11:00 Thursday AM:     Cleaning out a turkey with my mama.   Loving 35 years with this woman.   Wondering if the marketing departments know I’m aware that they leave the fat chunks for extra weight.   Praying I get to clean many more turkeys.  Praying for friends who no longer have their mamas.  Missing my grandma, first thanksgiving without her.

2:00 Thursday PM:    Cleaning out the garbage disposal.   Wondering why its only me that clogs it up.   Grateful the only time I cook is at holidays.    Praying for patience.

4:00 Thursday PM:   Nineteen people in our house.   Grinning at the pile of coats and shoes and scarves.    Praying.   Eating.   Loving the full plates and full tables.   Grateful for a place to include everyone.  Wondering where the pepper went.  Praying that these guests feel welcome and loved.  Praying that they know how very much God loves them.

10:00 Thursday PM:   Hugs.  Lots of hugs.   Putting away piles of games.   Wondering whose crystal dish I found.  Grateful for a country where prayer and thanksgiving are free.   Praying for our leaders.

4:00 Friday AM:   Turning off the alarm.  Why was I getting up?   Oh yes, its about the socks.   Wondering if it might not be worth paying normal price.   Grateful for friends who are as crazy as me.    Praying for safety.

1:00 Friday PM:   Tired now.   Wondering why the bank didn’t tell me I had a daily spending limit.   How annoying.   Grateful for a sister who has a debit card too.   Praying friends and family will enjoy the gifts.   Grateful for the first and ultimate Christmas gift.

5:00 Friday PM:    Eating pizza.   Loving pineapple and mozarella.   Grateful for old friends.  Praying for their teen group and ours.  Praying for wisdom for parents.

10:00 Saturday AM:   Running three miles.   Did I already mention the cold?   Grateful for coaches.   Praying I’ll be in charge of my body, not it in charge of me.

11:00 Saturday AM:   Eating a cinnamon role.    I think I already mentioned the cinnamon roles.   Really they are that good.   Wondering when I last blogged.   Praying for my niece and nephews.   Grateful for time to sit.

2:00 Saturday PM:   Craft bazaar.   Wondering where all the hats came from.   Wondering if its right to feel guilty for not buying a pot holder from the little Grandma.   Grinning with my kiddo at the tiny Christmas tree for her doll house.   Grateful for fun days.

5:00 Saturday PM:   Sitting by the fire.   Wondering if I can finish all my shopping this weekend.   Probably not.   Praying that in our house, that the miracle of Jesus doesn’t get lost in the ribbons and bows.   So very grateful for Emmanuel.  God with us.

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Little Notes, Big Impact

It’s my birthday.  I’m thirty five.   This is a very stable and confident sounding number.    It’s also halfway to seventy.   My maternal grandmother who is ninety one tells me that 70 is young.   I appreciate the encouragement.

I’ve always been the kind of person who thrives on atta girls.   I had a report card one time that actually said “needs too much encouragement.  Can’t work without outside approval”.    People say that those with a healthy self esteem don’t need others to prop them up.    While  I understand this theory, I actually think this is completely ridiculous.    Last night, running around the track in the dark I totally would have quit when I got a stomach ache had it not been for the amazing marathon runner beside me urging me on.   Encouragement keeps us moving foward.  It can keep us holding on when we don’t see a way through the dark.

Growing up, I loved the days at school where mom had put a note in my lunch box.  I got a note from her today.

I’m blessed today with facebook messages, texts, emails and I even got a fax.  This kind of encouragement just makes me smile.

I was missing my paternal grandmother today.  She died on New Years day, just nine months ago.  She never missed a single birthday my entire life.   She also never skipped sending thank you notes or congratulations cards.   I’m sure my love for the written note comes from Grandma.   This note sits above my desk.

When I’m frustrated with parenting or feel like I’ve blown it, I read this note and remember I come from good stuff.

I blogged last week about my teacher who gave me frowns all year.   This note showed up with a whole page of sticker smiley faces attached.

My daughter gave me one of my all time favorite encouragement notes.

It really does come down to that.   I love you.   That’s what people want to know.  Take a minute today, write a note.  Tell someone you love them.  Encourage them on.

My 91 year old grandmother has alzheimers.  She is doing well.  Still knows who we are.   Still tells us she loves us.   We’ve been writing her notes.     Someday she’s going to hear the the best words of encouragement ever spoken.  Word from her Creator.   “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”.

Be encouraged today.


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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.

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