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Dear Grandma


Pencil Drawing, circa 1985




One amazing person that I remember on Mother's Day (and many times throughout the year) is my Grandmother. Though she was not my Mother, she sure was an amazing Grandma. I can still remember my Mom and Aunt say to her upon realizing how much she spoiled her grandchildren, "Well, you never let us do that!" I'm sure many of us can relate to hearing that classic line to which there is no logical response or one necessary, because, you see, Grandmas need not justify their actions to anyone!



This charcoal drawing is a recent re-draw of a pencil sketch I did of my Grandma back in the mid 1980's when I was in art school. The original pencil sketch I did live and on the spot with her sitting for me (which was in itself a miracle). I knew I had only a few minutes to get her down on paper, so the result was immediate and more gestural. Though it was incomplete, it really captured who she was. The serious, focused attention showed that she was very much in the moment. As a grandchild, one had her undivided attention, which was so refreshing in an increasingly distracted world. At the same time, she was a realist, and was not one to let grass grow under her feet. I'm thankful she let me capture her in that moment.


I asked my cousin Tammie to give her perspective on Grandma and the memories we have of her. I had forgotten some of those memories:


"The very warm radiator on the porch where we always dried our boots, coats, gloves. Her cooking!! Cookies, the best pies, chocolate candy. The whistle that hung by the phones for those harassing phone calls. The basement steps where you guys would hide and grab my ankles. The green refrigerator in the cellar with orange and grape soda and root beer. All the laughter. The upstairs with the slanted ceilings and the attic you could crawl in. The creek (pronounced "crick") and the rope swing. Grandma's hugs and kissing the heck out of our cheeks. The big old record player. The pink bathroom. Her sewing skills. The apple tree. When we took her on a sled through the woods in Mark's big snowmobile suit."


All this captures the carefree, loving environment that our grandparents provided for us. These were the weapons in Grandma's arsenal of love. Though it was not a perfect place, it did not matter because the love outshined any imperfection or cares. She did not let anyone's fussing or worry stop her from sledding with her grandchildren in the winter or climbing apple trees in her seventies. Having grown up in a more agrarian as well as industrial era in America, it seemed there was nothing she couldn't do, and I think it instilled in us an attitude of possibility. Need a chair re-upholstered? No problem. A dress made? You got it. Thanksgiving dinner for eleven or more? Coming right up. Raise a garden, harvest apples, go watch planes at the airport? Let's do it!


It's not that Grandma had no worries or cares or concerns or health issues. She had plenty. She just chose not to dwell on them or allow them to stop her. We're thankful for her love, positive attitude, and the great legacy she left for us. Happy Mother's Day.


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