Lessons from Grammy

There are so many things I love about my Mom.

She’s been my emotional rock since I can remember, she’s a wonderful cook, a knowledgeable gardener, she’s the inspiration for my sense of adventure, and she’s my friend.

As I’ve grown up and been away from her though, I’ve noticed more similarities in myself to her, and coincidentally, similarities of both of us to her Mom, my Grammy.

She had to get it from someone, right?

Grammy died in March 2007, but I have SO many fond memories of her, and ones that have only improved since she’s been gone. Since then, I’ve realized how much more she and I would have to talk about now, aside from my silly gymnastics meets and school projects like we used to.

Anyway, the first time I read much Thoreau was when I took Bill Cronon’s American Environmental History class last year. I’d read it and think of my Grammy the whole time. Finally I told my Mom how much it reminded me of her and she informed me that Grammy loved Thoreau.

Of course she did, what was I thinking?

Grammy lived up in the woods in northern Wisconsin and my favorite memories with her are trips to the lake and long walks in the woods. Thoreau, I’m sure, was speaking of her when he wrote:

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks–who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING. […] No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God.”

Well, or genetics? My Mom and I have spent good amounts of time honing our sauntering abilities, I must say.

Next, when I learned in ecology last year that humans are not separate from nature, but just one part of it – I couldn’t help but think of Grammy’s respect and admiration for this idea. Thoreau thought the same.

“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil–to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.”

Finally, aside from Grammy in a nature sense, I also remember her in a very social sense. She was always donning her quirky silver charm jewelry, pink lipstick, and shoving colorful barrettes in a mess of red hair. (Katie and I would ditch our dress up stash in search of this jewelry box). She’d be off to cocktails and bridge parties… God, I wish I could hear her talk about life and politics now. I bet it was awesome. Anyway, Grammy would agree with Thoreau on this one:

“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”

I have an email from her freshman year of college – I’d been telling her about my classes, to which she responded:

“Yes, you are taking quite a variety of courses!  Talk about an education!  Your math course sounds like a problem solving course. Problem solving is something this world very much needs.”

Amen to that.

Anyway, this is such a short and inadequate description of her. The point is, she was such a fun, spirited, and wise woman, and remembering her makes me think of my Mom and it brings so many good memories to mind. I have so much to thank them both for, and I hope I am able to shed a similar sense of adventure, reverence for nature, and wisdom in my own life, and for my children someday.

(sigh) Back to studying.

I love you Mom!

-Jenny

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3 thoughts on “Lessons from Grammy

  1. slamdunk says:

    Sorry about the loss of your grandmother, but it is nice that you can share your memories about her here. Nicely done.

  2. Mary Clark says:

    That was an excellent piece of writing………It was put together so well, and I feel like I woild like both your mom and grandma.
    Mary from VA

  3. sally Almond says:

    I’m honored by your words and I know Grammy would appreciate them, too, The only thing missing is the conversation about how WE have been blessed by YOU, dear. I love you right back!

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