Grandparents Day has to be the best holiday ever. It is our day to celebrate the generations before us that helped make us who we are. It is even more special for me now because I am in the generation being celebrated. Thinking about grandparents, in general, reminds me of a saying I heard that goes “Whenever an elder dies, we lose a library.” The history and perspectives they take with them is lost treasure. On this Grandparents Day, I am remembering how my grandparents are my favorite library.
My maternal grandparents were a large part of my life growing up. My brother and I spent a lot of time at their apartment. It was just two floors below where I lived in Hialeah Gardens Florida in the early 1970s. My grandfather was a career Navy man known for not smiling. He used to let me help him with his jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles. I remember his praise (and a big grin just for me) when I got something right. He’s been gone forty-two years and I still think of him when I do puzzles.
My grandmother, who lived to be 94 years old, never remarried after his passing. When asked if she thought she’d ever date again, she’d say, “I got the best one the first time.” She was more focused on her own success. Grandma had a talent for numbers and was great at business operations. She loved to gamble too and was good at it. After serving as an integral part of the annual Channel 2 Auction in Miami for many years, she relocated to the Treasure Coast and took over a wallpaper store. Grandma ran that place all by herself for over a decade, finally retiring at eighty. She spent another five years volunteering. She and I found time to travel together then. For me, that is when I really got to explore the library my Grandmother was.
Grandma and I took three transatlantic cruises together. Each trip was an 18-day adventure and learning experience. We explored Europe and I learned about the person inside the Grandma. Whatever I asked about, she told me. I learned about her first love – not Grandpa! I learned about her first job as a telephone operator making .145/hour. She told me what it was like for her to raise three kids with a husband away at war. She shared with me her unrealized ambition to be a mathematician. I will always cherish the stories she told me.
I have to credit my grandma with teaching me about money management. Perhaps that is the non-fiction side of her library. Although Grandma used her charge card quite often, she always noted in passing that it was only for the perks. She had enough money to buy whatever she was charging. My Grandma would pay the bill in full by the due date. She didn’t brag bout her credit score, but we knew it had to be a good one. I love to use her good habits as examples when I teach classes on credit management for Extension.
In regard to gambling, she’d always say, “Spent money never wins. “She was explaining that it isn’t safe to risk money you have allocated toward paying bills. I remember her telling all the grandchildren, “Eat what you order and order what you eat” when she’d take us out to dinner. That meant: don’t be wasteful. She loved sharing with the family her bargain finds. She did not exemplify waste and excess, that’s for sure, but she lived a good life.
Grandma’s ashes are buried with Grandpa at Arlington National Cemetery and our family could not be more proud of all they gave to our country. He protected our freedom; she protected the family. Together, they developed a library of knowledge, experiences, and love that our family has done its best to preserve. This is why I say, my grandparents are my favorite library. On this Grandparents Day, go to your favorite library and learn something new. If you are looking for ideas on ways to connect this Grandparents Day, check out the resources at this link: https://grandparentsday.org/activity-ideas/