Growing up, I spent many weekends at my maternal grandmother’s house. My grandfather died when I was 9, and I started staying with Grandma to keep her company.
Grandma Mabel was a fun-spirited lady who was known to go sledding with us in the winter and racing down the hills with us in the summer. She was full of life and always said with a smile, “You have to be a bit ornery.” I loved going to her house and spending time with her.
One of the things I treasure most about her was the time we spent sitting in the recliners in her living room.
I sat in Grandpa’s recliner and she sat in hers. We rocked back and forth and talked. I would ask her questions about her younger years and what it was like to grow up in a family of 16 children.
I discovered that Grandma Mabel played on the girls’ basketball team in high school. It was fun to envision her dressed in her uniform, dribbling the ball down the court. It was also pretty neat to think of Grandma as an athlete and — from her stories — she must have been a pretty competitive one at that!
Grandma died in 2000, and I often credit her with my career choice to work with older adults. She taught me to enjoy life and to help others. Grandma also taught me to take time to notice the beauty in nature. She would often stop to point out a beautiful tree or an interesting cloud floating by.
My hope is that each of us takes time to listen to the stories of our elders. They are rich with life lessons and often have shared similar experiences. Their wisdom provides insight and helps us navigate more successfully through challenging times.
As I look back at the time spent with my grandma, one thing I wish I would have done was to record her telling some of her stories. It would be so nice to hear her voice and listen to those wonderful stories again. If you have one of these treasured people in your life, take the time to listen. Consider recording or writing down the stories. Your life will be enriched for having taken the time to do so.
By Charlotte Stensaas, MSW
Rehabilitation/Skilled Care Consultant