My Grandma Dolores was one classy lady. She was effortlessly chic and cool to her core. She passed away this week, and I’ve been reflecting on her life and what I have learned from her. I decided that this year I’m claiming my Grandma as my Valentine, and showing my love for her by sharing some of her wisdom and beauty with you.
Dolores was glamorous and gorgeous until her last breath, she even made an oxygen tank and a Rascal seem totally hip. I’m not just saying that. She really did.
I’ll miss my Grandma so much, but she has been in pain for a while, and I know the life she has been living for the past few years would not be one of her choosing. Her example and attitude through those last painful years will probably be something I remember the most about her. She will forever be an example of grace under fire. But there was so much more to her than that, so I give you:
5 things I learned from the classiest grandma on the block
1. You can always look your best
Like I said, this woman made a motorized wheelchair disappear behind her tailored suits and handcrafted jewelry. Mind you, you would never know anything she was wearing was handmade, she machine knitted suits that looked like St. John knits, and knew every method of jewelry making under the sun. She wasn’t flashy or always shopping, she made and bought quality items and took good care of them. She always exercised, ate healthy, and had her hair and make-up done. I don’t think we should walk around like beauty queens, but I think there is a sense of dignity in taking care of yourself and making an effort to look your best, even if you have to wear an oxgen tube.
2. You’re never too old to learn something new
Dolores was ALWAYS taking classes. In her 70’s she was learning new sewing or knitting techniques, learning new games, reading good books and somehow always knowing about every culinary trend before it even was one.
3. Having a bad day does not give you the right to treat people badly
When I was high school I was even more of a spaz than I am now. I allowed myself to throw big dramatic fits and let my anxiety and perfectionism manifest as tangents and outbursts. But like any good crazy person, I saved all the crazy for those closest to me. When I was getting ready for my senior prom my grandparents came to see me and take pictures. I couldn’t find a shoe, my hair was ugly (it seriously was really bad) and I didn’t like my eye-makeup. I acted about like Ginger does, and threw a big fit.
My mom later told me that my grandma (she is my dad’s step-mother but is the only Grandma I’ve ever know on his side) was very appalled and shocked at the way I acted. She was disappointed in me. She hadn’t said anything, and she didn’t make a big deal about it, but knowing that I had disappointed and maybe even embarrassed her with my actions was agony.
It’s not always easy to be in a good mood, especially when I’m pregnant and my back hurts and I’m EXHAUSTED. And I know I get snippy and sassy. But over the years I’ve worked very hard to do what I need to do so that I do not act like that ever again. Snotty looks, tantrums, and being short with people are bad habits. Sure we all slip, but I believe that we can apologize and have the humility to say, “Please know I’m having a hard time and it’s not you.”
Even when my grandma was sick and in pain, and it was stressful for her to attend family gatherings, she came, stayed as long as she could, which was sometimes under an hour, and she was pleasant the whole time.
4. There’s always an occasion to use your fine china
There are 5 children in my family, and we are all close together. About once a month my grandparents would invite us to Sunday dinner, and my grandma ALWAYS used her nicest china. She served us on silver platters, busted out the chaffing dish and the presentation was always fantastic, as was the food!
It was something she took great pride in, and she wasn’t doing it to post on Instagram, a blog or Facebook. And she certainly wasn’t doing it to impress the 5 little brats spilling on her table cloth. She treated us like we were respected guests, and it made every dinner that much more special. I think with social media we can sometimes lose sight of doing beautiful things just for the sake of their beauty. She will always be a good reminder of that.
5. If you’re doing something, you might as well do it well
Even though Dolores wasn’t my biological grandma, (my Father’s mother passed when he was 16) I love that we shared a love of crafts. She knew how to do EVERYTHING. And she did it flawlessly. I remember when I wanted to learn how to sew she bought me LEATHER to make a skirt and said, “Well if you’re going to make something, you might as well make something nice.” Haha, incidentally I never really learned how to sew from her, and she made the leather skirt for me. But I’ve always remembered that lesson as I teach myself or learn new skills. There is something so satisfying in this day and age of “quick crafts” and the disposable, about making a few things (not EVERYTHING) that are really high quality and will last forever.
I am so grateful for the years I had with Grandma, and for her example of love, beauty and grace.
Thank you so much for letting me share some of these thoughts with you. I hope that you have a very happy Valentine’s day. Even if it’s not filled with handcrafted goodies, homemade cards, roses or fancy dinners, I hope you fill it with love. Call your Grandmas, and take a big hug and squeeze from me. MUAH.