How Many of Us Were Fortunate Enough as Adults to Still Have Grandparents?
I recently posted a wedding photo of my paternal grandmother of blessed memory, Eva Nisson, known as Gram to all of her grandchildren.
It got me thinking that I was so fortunate to get some time with her when I was an adult as she lived into her mid 80’s, before the current trends of longevity made that seem youngish.
When I was a child, I certainly took Gram for granted, as all children do with their elders. She was the matriarch and balabusta of our famiily, (along with my Aunt Doris) and she lived only a block away, but I didn’t understand what a role model was and how she was one for me. (more on that later) Such wasted, valuable time for many of us as children and we didn’t realize it until too late, as in the case with my maternal grandparents.
After my childhood where I took many delicious recipes and meals from her for granted, I was a self-absorbed teenager. I was interested in boys, popularity, music, boys, clothes, dates, boys, and hanging out with my grandmother, or even my parents was not a priority to say the least. (Emphasis on boys!)
For my maternal grandparents and my paternal grandfather, that is where it all ended. They consecutively passed away when I was a teen too busy to really give them the time of day. Before I could really ask the burning questions about their histories, before I could tell them how much I appreciated them, they passed away with just snippets of stories left to know them.
I was fortunate that my Gram stayed around for much longer. As I turned into a young adult in my late teens and early twenties, I learned to enjoy being with my Gram. It was almost as if a maturity switch came on and I realized I should appreciate my elders. She moved to and lived in a high rise downtown which I thought was so cool. She was fun and wonderful to be with and I spent a lot of leisure time visiting with her, developing a strong bond that we had never shared before. This was precious to me.
The above photo taken down the “Shore” together – a place that we both loved! (and I still do!)
She always had food for me – to her food was love. She reminisced, she shared old photos, some which she gave to me and I still have them today – as precious as gold to me now because now I was interested in her history and my own history. I have some of her recipes too – another great gift so I can keep her food traditions going within my own family. (With the exception of homemade Gelfilte fish – I draw the line at that – although she taught me a great doctoring recipe for the jarred stuff that I use to this day to great success)
Then in my mid twenties, I moved to Houston – far away from her home in Philly. That didn’t dampen our close relationship. She visited often and particularly after my son Brett was born. I visited her a lot too as my aunt and uncle had a summer home in my growing up beach town where I would camp out in for weeks as a time with my little Brett. Gram and I talked on the phone probably more than normal back when long distance calls were expensive. If I needed information on child rearing, cooking, or anything else, she was my go-to source.
We became great friends, and she was such a source of comfort and support to me when I needed it most.
I began to emulate her – not consciously – but now when I look back on it, I realize that I was following the lead of my role model of great womanhood. She was a community leader, and this is something I took up as well when my children were growing up. In Houston I became the balabusta, cooking for all holidays and hosting friends and family, just as Gram used to do.
When she became ill, it was absolutely devastating for me, especially because I was so far away. I was pregnant with my daughter Elissa when she passed away.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would name my daughter after her. My daughter’s Hebrew name is Chava, the same as Gram’s was. Elissa’s first name Elissa is a lovely combination of Eva and Nisson (E, ISS, A) Elissa reminds me of my Gram in many ways too.
The point is, I feel so blessed and lucky to have had some adult years with my special Gram so I could develop a relationship that turned out to be one of the most important of my life. I know so many of us did not have the opportunity to get to this stage with either a special grandparent or even a parent, so I am feeling fortunate to have had this extra time. It was the same way for my only Aunt, who happens to be my favorite Aunt – my Aunt Doris. She picked up the matriarch ball when Gram passed away, and I became so very close to her too. Unfortunately she is gone now too, but has a namesake in my grandson’s Hebrew name.
So now tell me readers, how many can relate to this blog and wish they could go back and spend quality time with their departed loved ones that they were too young to appreciate when they had their untimely end? I know I wish that for my other grandparents. Let me hear from you!