Wednesday, January 08, 2014

10 Things I Love About... Grandma!

The past couple days have been sad for our family as my Grandma's health is failing fast. In this time of sadness, I wanted to bring a little happiness to my family and those who know and love my Grandma. A 10 Things I Love About You post seemed like just the thing to do that. So here it is.

10 things I love about my Grandma are...

1. She loves her family and will do just about anything for them.
My Mum and her two sisters (Mumma is the baby)
My grandparents and their family
Gram with 7/8ths of her grandkids (at the time)
Grandma and her oldest and youngest daughters in August 2011
Grandma visiting her sister at the nursing home
Bryn and I in Cairo, Egypt Skyping with the hometown family on Christmas Day 2010
The extended family at Grandma and Grandpa's 60th wedding anniversary celebration in August 2012
Whether it's helping a family member out with something, making yummy food to share, writing love notes, spending evenings playing games, making and sending out "birthday chocolates," or just hanging out having quality time (and countless other things, too), Gram is a master at loving her family. And we all love her back. A lot!

2. She has such a strong faith in God.
My baby dedication at the Orchard City Seventh-day Adventist Church
A special prayer for Grandma by Pastor Brian after church in October
My grandparents and parents have been such an inspiration to me in my spiritual life. They have all been very involved in our church and in witnessing (door-to-door, to those who come to their doors, and through friendship evangelism). My Grandma has always been so faithful at doing little things, things that others might not know about, but ones that really make an impact. Things like sending cards or visiting those who are sick or lonely and forgotten. Things that have a huge potential for brightening up someone's day and making them feel loved and cared about.

3. She appreciates good music and instilled that into her children and grandchildren.
Baby Ali plunking on my grandparents' piano
(In the background, the best ever SDA songbook!)
Mum and me practicing violin together
My Grandma had each of her daughters take piano lessons, and later on had them learn another instrument of their choosing. This early musical training that my mother and her sisters had was very likely the reason that my siblings and I were so involved in music ourselves (well that and some adorable beginner violinists at SMC in the late 70s). And Grandma has always enjoyed listening to her children and grandchildren play music, no matter their age or ability.

4. She has a passion for traveling and learning about more of the world.
On our Hawaii trip (Gram opted out of the picture...)
Riding Via Rail from Moncton, New Brunswick to Quebec City
I might have missed the loving-to-cook gene, but I sure got the loving-to-travel gene! My family has an interest in going to and learning about new places. My grandparents started it all by taking their three daughters on trips all across Canada and the US from the time they were young until they were going away to college and beyond. I have been so privileged to have been born into a family who values travel, seeing new places, and learning from different cultures. Some of my favourite trips with my family and grandparents have been: my Mum and Grandma taking the kids to Oahu, Hawaii in 1990, driving to Alaska in our motor home in 1991, a whirlwind tour of Europe (10 countries in 10 days) in 2004, and an Eastern Canada trip in 2008 to experience some of the areas of Canada we hadn't been to yet.

5. She loves flowers and pretty things in nature.
Gram with a beautiful bouquet sent from a friend
My grandparents on their annual spring trip to Art Knapps for flowers to plant
Grandma with her colourful selections
As far back as I remember my grandparents' yard had many flowers. Most of them were perennials, so they bloomed year after year in the same flower beds. My favourites were always the nasturtiums - we loved biting off the tip of part of the flower and then sucking out the sweet nectar. When my grandparents moved from their house to a condo they still wanted flowers around. Potted plants and bouquets from family and friends frequently lived on their dining room table, but even so, each spring my grandparents planted a few of their favourite flowers in their small flower bed off the porch. Flowers always make me think of Grandma, both because she always tried to have some around and because they are so cheery to look at and they buoy the spirits so well.

6. She's always up for a good joke or a bit of fun.
A funny prankster man who started dusting Gram and Mum while we were walking around Quebec City
Good-natured Gram modeling a "gift" from Mum and me
^I can't remember where this fake pearl jewelry set came from (probably a freebie from a bank or grocery store or someplace like that), but my mum and I brought it over to Gramps and Gram's house and played a little joke on my Grandma. We gave it to her and said it was a present for her. When she opened it up she was quite surprised, but laughed about it with us and even modeled the necklace and bracelet for a photo. :)

This is just so typical of my Grandma. She is always ready for a laugh and if it's with family or good friends it's even better. I have so many memories of her and my Mum and sometimes others having giggle fits about the silliest things. I'm so glad I grew up in a family who knows the benefits of laughter!

7. She always encourages.
Writing Christmas thank you cards with my super-cool coloured pen
This one (and the corresponding picture) is two-fold. Firstly, my grandma always encouraged me in my writing. From the time I was nine and would send her ridiculous little stories when my family lived in Alberta, she always told me how much she loved what I wrote and that I should always keep writing. She is one of the main reasons I eventually decided on a writing major in college and have enjoyed exploring creative writing. She has always given me wonderful feedback and encouragement with my writing, whether it was a post on this blog or a short story I wrote up.

Secondly, my Grandma has instilled in me the importance of encouraging others. She is always writing thank you notes, encouraging letters to people who live far away or who can't get out much, and visiting people who need a pick-me-up. Her care for others is so inspiring and I hope I can be as much of a blessing to others as I know she has been to many.

8. She loves sports.
Gram helping my older sister Becky learn how to play baseball
I always loved listening to my Grandma and her siblings talk about the games they played while growing up back on the family farm in Saskatchewan. They sure came up with some great ideas! One game that inevitably came up in conversation, though, was baseball. Hearing about them all playing catch or organizing pick-up games of siblings and friends made me realize how fun sports could be. My Grandma and Grandpa both were instrumental in teaching me how to hit a baseball, and I would be a whole lot worse at mini-golf had Gram not taught me the finer details of how to position my feet and swing my club.

9. She believes books and reading are important.
Gram listening to my niece Coral read a book
My deep love of books and reading definitely came from my Mum. And her love of them came from my Grandma. The whole lot of us are a book family, through and through!

10. She loves traditions and celebrations.
Santa grandparents - Their Christmas picture from a couple years ago
My grandparents with Jonathan and me at our wedding in August 2011
Cutting the cake at their 60th wedding anniversary in August 2012
Celebrating their 61st anniversary in their home
One reason traditions and celebrations are so important to me is because they were important to my mother and my grandmother. I guess it's true what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree. :) Special family traditions give us character and things to look forward to, and celebrations break up the every-day and make us realize what a good life we have. (Incidentally, optimism is another trait Gram has.)

All in all, I am so happy to have had nearly 29 wonderful years of knowing and loving my Grandma. I am so privileged to have her as my grandmother and to be able to learn so many things from her. Last night after Jonathan and I sang a hymn to her she told me how much she loved me. When I said "I love you so much, too, Gram," she countered with "I love you more!" I'm not sure. I think we both win that competition.

(My apologies for the large number of pictures. There were just too many good ones that I couldn't leave out. The vast majority were from my Mum, but one was from Jonathan and the rest are my own.)


  1. This is a nice post, Ali. I enjoyed looking at all of the pictures. You have a very special Grandma :)

  2. Ali,
    You have done a wonderful job of describing your amazing Grandma (and Mum) to the rest of us. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  3. A lovely tribute Ali. I love you loads and buckets! Daddy Q

  4. I just finished reading this blog post to Grandpa, and he really seemed to enjoy it. I loved it...thanks so much for posting it and bringing back so many great memories!

  5. A lovely tribute for a wonderful lady . Praying for her comfort and peace. Hugs of courage to each family member. Xo

  6. Thank you so much, Ali.
    You know what I did through out this read!!

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma! She is such a special lady. It looks as though she loves all of the "right" things in life, the things that make us grow, create and love! I also had to laugh at your "you didn't get the cooking gene, but you got the travel gene" comment. My goodness, we are alike...I just HATE to cook, but I'll step on a plane any old day!

  8. This is lovely. Gram and Gramps are and have been such good-looking people! I love them.

  9. Such a nice post, Ali. Sweet photos and memories to cherish!