Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A New Grandmother


While I was in India last week I had the opportunity to meet one of my student’s great grandmothers. It was both an honor and a privilege to spend an afternoon with Hazel and in the end I feel like I have gained a grandmother.

My grandmothers were both dear to me. One died when I was ten and one died when I was pregnant with my daughter. Even though more than 25 years span between the two losses I felt them both differently.

My paternal grandmother, Mater, had four grandchildren, but only one grand daughter. I loved being the only one. I sewed my first pair of pants in first grade (navy blue polyester) using her Singer and guidance. I had started cooking long before that. I still make homemade granola each week from her recipe. She had been a kindergarten teacher and her ease with us when we were little was evident. Mater loved nature and camp and those are things she helped instill in me. I wish I could have known her as an adult as I can only imagine what deep conversations with her would have been.

My maternal grandmother, GramGram, was not a grandmother who got down on the floor and played with her grandchildren. She had a great house to go to and play when we were kids, but we didn’t play with her. As an adult, however, she and I had endless conversations about everything from books to baseball. We shared our travels, both in story and in actuality. As she got older and less independent I would escort her to the grocery store, doctor appointments, arts events, baseball games, and memorial services. I will never forget the conversation we had when she was in her early 90s when she told me she had changed her mind on the death penalty. I honestly can’t remember which was she switch, it was much more striking to me that she HAD changed.

When I was married I gained another grandmother, my husband’s paternal grandmother. She was the sweetest woman I have ever met. I do not think she could have an unkind thought or word. She also died when I was pregnant with my daughter.

Five years later I head down to the lobby of my hotel to have tea with Hazel and over the course of the next many hours my smile grew and grew. Hazel was a teacher for 70 years. She taught little ones and her love of them still energizes her. I was honored to hear stories about her life, family, and teaching. When she insisted I shared story after story bout my own little one. I now have another grandmother. I can’t wait until she comes to Beirut for a visit!


  1. How wonderful that you have been able to share so much with your grandmothers and especially with Hazel. She must be a remarkable woman. I only knew one of grandmothers and I have many fond memories of her even though she passed away when I was 11.

  2. I never met any of my grandmothers. They had all passed away before I was born. But last week I shared my birthday with a dear friend who turned 70 on my birthday. I have had many great "aunts" who have been like grandmothers to me. So glad you have wonderful memories of your grandmothers!

  3. This wisdom of our elders is so wonderfully portrayed in your post. I could feel you share your love....not tell me about it....but showing me their great qualities. Great post/

  4. This is a lovely tribute to your grandmas. Your words carry appreciation for meeting Hazel. It was sweet reading your post, and thinking of my grandmas who both passed away when I was a child.