Herald Journal Columns
May 16, 2005, Herald Journal

Grandparents have much to teach us


With May being Mothers’ Day month (I think the whole month should be designated for mothers), I can’t go without acknowledging an appreciation for my own mom, who has been mothering, grandmothering, and great-grandmothering (not words in the dictionary, but they should be) for a long time.

She is 83 years old, with a world of wisdom behind her. I do feel fortunate that my mom lives so close by, and we have her wisdom with us each day.

My mom lives with our family. She has her own area, as my kids call it – “grandma’s area.” She, my husband, kids, and I float freely from her area to ours. She comes over for supper, and the kids go to her area for cookies and treats.

I feel fortunate that my children have their grandma’s presence around them on a regular basis. Her presence adds a whole new and different dimension to our household and their lives.

The other night, I found my 8-year-old son sitting with grandma in her living room, watching a Little House on the Prairie episode. What television show could be better than that to teach our children about morals and family values? And grandma always has something to add as to how it was when she grew up.

There are many nights when our 5-year-old daughter will be found sleeping with grandma on her couch, while grandma is sitting up “resting her eyes” (that’s what grandma says, anyway).

Our 1-year-old loves to venture to grandma’s to sit on her lap and eat a cracker or two. She already knows that grandma has the best treats. There is just something special about grandma’s place.

Grandparents are also wonderful at giving unconditional love to children. They can give the cookie and milk to their grandchild when he or she has just been scolded by mom or dad, or right before dinner to help ease the hurt of a skinned knee (and it really does take the pain away).

Of course, grandparents have much knowledge, wisdom, and common sense. When I am dealing with my 5-year-old and 8-year-old after they have had a disagreement, my mom will occasionally remind me of the times when my twin brother and I had the same disagreements and brawls.

“They remind me of you and your brother growing up,” she will say. I think back, and nod in agreement. My twin brother and I are best of friends, now. Grandparents have a way of putting things in perspective.

It’s always fun to hear grandma’s stories of when she was growing up. We like to drive past the farm site, just south of New Germany, where she grew up, and hear her talk about when she walked two miles to school with a carafe of coffee to drink when she got to school on those cold days. My kids love this story. It’s great for children to hear “how things used to be” and to gain appreciation for what we have now.

Even though Grandma Iris doesn’t cook or bake much anymore, it’s great to have her share her secret recipes with us. She makes the “meanest beans” in town, and the best apple pie in McLeod County – well, in Minnesota, for that matter. Even past Twins’ owner Calvin Griffith once tasted her apple pie and proclaimed it the best he’d ever had! And he would have known – what’s more American than baseball and apple pie? (He was in Lester Prairie with his friend, Swanny Landin.)

Growing up, my mom had the prettiest rock and flower gardens around. People would stop along the highway to view her beautiful display of flowers. She definitely has a green thumb.

She could put a rock anywhere, and it looked good. She doesn’t plant flower gardens anymore, but she shares gardening tips with my family and me.

My husband also thoroughly enjoys gardening, but vegetable gardening is his passion. (Mom shares tips with him, too.)

I believe because I grew up with my mom’s love of flowers, I, too, love flowers and gardening, and this love of gardening is passed on to my own children. They each have their own little gardens with flowers, vegetables, and garden statues that they received as birthday gifts a couple years ago.

Handstitching, darning, and embroidering towels, pillowcases, tablecloths,and basically anything was a beloved hobby of my mom’s. All of her children have received some type of embroidered gift from her.

She doesn’t do much embroidery work anymore, but she still can, and does, sew up tears and rips in shirts, socks, pants, etc. When my kids get a rip in their clothes, they always reassure me that “grandma can fix it,” and she usually does.

When my children draw family portraits at school, Grandma Iris Schultz was, and is included in the portraits – stick person and all.

Grandparents are wonderful people, and we need to show appreciation to them, as well. We probably have all been in situations where, thank goodness, grandma or grandpa was there to help us out!

Never underestimate the love and wisdom of a grandparent or a grandparent figure.

Our family appreciates the unconditional love and wisdom Grandma Iris gives to us

Spring is here – plant a tree

April 28 was National Arbor Day, but it’s never too late to plant a tree.

The website, jas.family.go.com noted that the United States isn’t the only place where celebrating spring means celebrating trees. In Japan, when the cherry trees blossom, it’s cause for a festival; and in Israel, people give thanks for the gift of nature by planting trees on the late winter holiday Tu B’Shvat.

It’s a wonderful idea to get your children into the adoration of trees and planting trees, as well. Help your child plant a tree close to the same height he or she is now, and then compare growth as future springs pass. The website also recommends taking snap photos of your child and his tree each spring, for history’s sake.

Last week, we planted trees with our children. Each of our children picked out a tree that they would like to have as their own, and we named the trees after them. They helped us pick out the spots where their trees were planted (close to their play areas) and helped dig the holes and plant the trees. (They loved the digging part). It will be fun to watch the trees grow as our children grow.

With Memorial Day coming, planting a tree in memory of a loved one that has passed away is a wonderful tribute, as well. Our family planted an ash tree in memory of Grandpa Walter Schultz because ash trees were one of his favorite types of trees. We have also planted a “Marian” tree in honor of my sister-in-law, who passed away a few years ago. Whenever I look a those trees, I think of both of them and smile. It is a wonderful way to remember and pay tribute to loved ones.

Words of wisdom

Remember to tell grandma and grandpa that you appreciate all they do. If your children don’t have grandparents around, think about adopting a “grandparent” from a local senior care center, or just take your children to pay some visits to a senior care center. It’s good for everyone involved!

Have a wonderful May week!