A Tribute to my Grandmother, aka Grandma Sugar
Grandma, granny, grammy, nana. It doesn't matter what you call her, a grandmother is a special kind of mother. She's a mother with the rough edges smoothed out. A Grandmother's temper is slow, her hugs are quick, and her rules are always flexible.
I'm a bit of a grandma's girl, and proud of it.
I have been very blessed to share my life with my beloved Sugar. She never gave up on me, even when it seemed everyone else had. She is still a daily part of mine and my children's lives.
Sugar is now 82 years old, and she can outwork, out cook, and out love, the best of us. There is still no place better than Grandma's house. Most of the family agrees, her house will always be home.
She is still the place I turn when life troubles me, she is the rock that has kept my whole family stable through four generations now. She taught all of us that family comes above all else. She has modeled that lesson well.
She has shared many lessons with her family, and we appreciate all of them. Sugar was raised during the great depression, and we used to tease her about the silly things she did. Like washing and reusing plastic baggies. We have argued many times over my use of the phrase "It's just a quarter."
Now our country is facing hard times, and we are blessed to have a generation of people who have already lived through it and have many lessons to share with us. "It's just a quarter." doesn't seem as simple as it once was.
A lot of people treat the elderly as a burden, as someone who must be cared for, or even worse as someone to be taken advantage of. Through my relationship with my grandmother I've learned to see her as a vast wealth of knowledge.
Our elderly population is a treasure we often overlook. So welcome to my tribute to grandmother's everywhere and all they have to offer a world that needs them now, more than ever.
Grandma's Hands - Bill Withers
Sugar, the oldest member of the family and Elizabeth, the youngest.
A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween.
~ Erma Bombeck
A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.
~ Lois Wyse
Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.
~ Pam Brown
If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.
~ Italian Proverb
If your baby is "beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time," you're the grandma.
It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace.
~ Christopher Morley
Perfect love sometimes does not come till the first grandchild.
~ Welsh Proverb
We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me.
~ Phyllis Theroux
When a child is born, so are grandmothers.
~ Judith Levy
A rose by any other name...
What we call our grandmother is as individual as we are. Sometimes it is a family tradition, others is comes from heritage. My kids have always called my mother grandma, my husband's mother is Nana, and their step-grandmother is grammy. Some are Grandma Susie, or Granny S.
Traditional Grandmother Names:
* Big Mom
* Ma or Maw
Modern Grandmother Names
* Chinese: NaiNai
* Filipino: Lola
* Flemish: Bomma
* French: Grandmere
* French Canadian: Meme
* German: Oma
* Greek: YaYa
* Hawaiian: Tutu
* Hebrew: Savta
* Italian: Nonna
* Japanese: Oba-chan
* Korean: Halmoni
* Polish: Busia
* Portuguese: VoVo
* Russian: Babushka
* Spanish: Abuela
* Yiddish: Bube
My grandmother was always Grandma when I was growing up, her kids friends called her mom, and my friends called her grandma, she has always joked that she didn't know what she would do when she was walking through the store to hails of "Hello great-grandma."
We found a way to fix that, she is now known throughout town as Sugar. A nickname given to her by my oldest when she was a toddler. Grandma always greeted her by saying "How's my Sugar girl?" and one day my oldest responded "I'm fine, How's my Sugar Grandma?"
The name stuck, and eventually spread. Last Summer, Sugar was our honored as Water Days Queen, for our annual Fourth of July festival. Part of that honor was riding in a brand new, bright yellow, Corvette for the parade.
Sugar is not even five feet tall, so all that was visible was a tiny little hand waving from somewhere inside of the car, and the top of her head. As she passed the announcer, the PA boomed out "We love you Sugar!"
Sugar, suits her.
We also call her our little hottie on occasion, but that is another story.
It doesn't matter what you call a grandmother, they will always stay just as sweet.
I got the list of grandmother nicknames here. Add yours below.
The pure and simple power of love
My mother was very young when she had me, and as I got older we seemed to clash over everything. I spent summers living with Sugar, and a few school years when times got tough. When I was sixteen, Sugar officially "adopted" me, and I spent the rest of my childhood living with her.
I won't deny that I was a wild child, I was fond of parties and school only got in the way. I was always up for an adventure, and Sugar never quite knew what to expect. It wasn't unthinkable for me to call her on a Tuesday afternoon from somewhere in Texas, explaining that my friends and I had decided that a trip cross country was a perfectly lovely idea.
When all of my friends started drinking, I was right there with them. When they started doing drugs I was right there again. Yet one thing always held me back. They all had parents that would kill them if they knew some of the things we were doing, I had a Sugar who wouldn't kill me, but the choices I made could very well kill her.
Eventually I settled down and became a mother, and looking back I realize that I can honestly say Sugar loved the hell out of me. A lot of my parenting methods come from watching my relationship with Sugar and trying to figure out why it worked. Where my mother struggled to maintain control of our relationship, Sugar just loved us.
There were a few years there that I refused to even speak to my mother, but Sugar eventually convinced us to reconcile. My mother and I are very close today, but we both had a good example.
Sugar never pushed me, or demanded that I do anything. When I dated a boy she didn't like she never said a word. Instead she would wait for me to figure it out on my own. Once I started seeing that a boy didn't treat me very well, she would merely say, "Yes, I've noticed that." Leading me to believe she was, in fact, the smartest woman on the planet.
The first lesson she taught me, and the one I've carried the most throughout my life is the pure and simple power of love. In turn I've loved the hell out of my own children, and I've always made sure that they too respect their Sugar and understand the lessons she is now teaching them.
The best food always comes from grandma...
There is no place on earth like grandma's kitchen!
Several times a year large groups of people descend upon Sugar's house. It is a tradition that has been going on since her children left home. Sometimes it is for holiday's. More often than not we just missed Sugar.
Now there is no doubt we are there for the company, but there is always the food. Since I live a few blocks away, I'm pretty spoiled when it comes to the food part as well.
There are certain things that only Sugar can make, we know, we have tried but it never tastes as good as hers. Sugar is truly at home in a kitchen, and the first thing she does when company visits is try to feed them. I think her goal is to fatten up the whole world, everyone except for her little 95 pound self.
Whenever company comes the first thing we check for is the chocolate sheet cake, it will be hiding in the kitchen somewhere. Then we all stand over it drooling until she gives us permission to cut a piece.
Then comes dinner. Either the family favorite nobody else has ever heard of, marzette (think spaghetti casserole), or her sour cream chicken enchiladas. I did finally convince her she needed to share her top secret recipes with "a few friends." Shhh... don't tell.
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz Sour Cream
1 or 2 cans green chili
1 chicken cooked and boned
1 small onion
salt and garlic to taste
1 package corn tortillas
Mix all ingredients (except tortillas.) Soften tortillas in hot oil. Fill tortillas and roll. Place in a baking dish. Cover with grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350.
1/12 lb ground beef
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 lb Monterey jack cheese
1/2 onion chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1-46 oz can of tomato juice
1-8 oz can mushrooms drained
1-16 oz bag pasta
Brown ground beef first. Add celery, onion, pepper, seasonings, and tomatoes with juice. Simmer. Add cooked and drained noodles. Pour in 9" X 13" pan. Pour half into the pan, then sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese over the top. Pour remaining mixture into pan and cover with cheese. Cover and bake at 350 until cheese is melted.
Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Melt together and bring to a boil
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
4 T Cocoa
Pour over dry ingredients and add
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 slightly beaten eggs
Pour into a jelly roll pan or 11" X 14" pan. Bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes. If you don't have butter-milk use sweet milk and add a few drops of vinegar in it.
Frosting: Melt 1 stick of butter, add 4 tbs cocoa and 6 tbs buttermilk. Bring to boil and add 1 pound powdered sugar. Mix and pour over cake while frosting is still warm.
The fount of wisdom
People often dismiss the elderly, but they have so much to offer. A day spent with someone from an earlier generation is full of color and life. Yes they remember when a candy bar cost a nickel, and the day Kennedy was assassinated, but they also have the most wonderful personal stories.
My grandmother has kept a daily journal for most of her life, a notebook lasts her around a year. She writes down everything. What she did that day, who she spoke to, experiences she had. In documenting her life, she has also documented mine, and my families. I treasure those journals.
The troubles, and the triumphs of my family are all there. Her observations about life, and the way she felt when certain things happened. The patterns we have repeated and the lessons we have learned.
Grandparents have so many stories to share.
My grandmother often tells stories about her childhood, about the struggles of being a youngest child. Her siblings were always trying to scare her, she was afraid of the dark well into adolescence. Then one day she decided she was tired of being afraid, and she made up her mind to overcome it.
She talks about how poor her family really was, but how their home was always full of love. She was raised by a single mother in a time when being a single mother was unheard of.
When the depression hit her family of seven, they were living in Kansas. They loaded up everything they could in their car and headed to Colorado. They left behind a home filled with furniture, including a baby grand piano. Their travels took them to Gunnison, which was the coldest place on the planet.
My great grandfather disappeared into a bottle, and eventually disappeared totally. He spent many years living on the streets. My Grandmother never forgot how hard her mother worked to support her children.
She talks of a day when she was very young, and found two quarters frozen in the ice. She spent an hour chipping them free, when another little girl came along and convinced her that since there were two she wouldn't miss the second one.
So, Sugar gave the second quarter to the other little girl, and ran to show her mother the one she had found. Her mother sat her down and explained that it took her a whole hour working in the laundry to make a single quarter.
Later as she was walking home with that quarter in her pocket, the other little girl came out of the candy store with chocolate dripping down her chin. My grandmother says that was the day she learned the true value of "just a quarter."
Tell your children and grandchildren those stories, when they are younger they may not listen but as they grow older they will draw on those words throughout their life. Your stories are a part of who you are, and there is wisdom in them, wisdom was meant to be shared.
The Grandmother Book: A Book About You for Your Grandchild
For the fifteen million grandmothers who are keepers of family history and memories, The Grandmother Book is a lively and timely way to record your story for future generations.
My Sugar remembers the past, and has found a way to learn from it. If you are a grandmother, grandfather, or even a mother or father please consider keeping a journal. Those simple words, no matter how mundane they may see, can be a treasure to those who love you.
The power of giving
More than anything, Sugar has taught us about the power of giving. She has spent the last fifteen years delivering meals-on-wheels to the shut-ins of our community. She has held many volunteer positions, and is one of the first to offer help when it is needed.
A few years ago my husband and I were having problems and separated. Shortly after that he was injured, and of course Sugar volunteered to take care of him. Making it a very uncomfortable separation for me.
The only logical thing to do after that was to get ourselves together, with a lot of urging from Sugar we made it through, and have found ourselves happier than ever. Thanks to my grandmothers willingness to help others, I still have a marriage today.
She took in a man that was almost a stranger, he isn't the first, nor will he be the last. She is always there when someone is in need. My husband now adores her, she is his Sugar too.
Then there is Sugar's business. Not many people start their first business when they are in their late seventies, but not many people are my Sugar.
When we first came up with the idea for a thrift store in our area, the only thing we had was a name. The Sugar Patch Village Bazaar. The goal was not just to offer low cost goods, but to give locals a place to sell their wares.
The whole family volunteered to keep it running but due to high overhead we eventually moved to Sugar's backyard. Working full time for free didn't go over well with some of our husbands, but we truly enjoyed the work.
90% of our merchandise was sold for others, and a portion of donated items went to different local charities. We held community yard sales every other week through the summer months for three years until last year.
We aren't sure if we are going to be able to continue doing it anymore, so the fate of the Sugar Patch is up in the air at the moment. We sure hope we can keep it going though, it means a lot to the community.
To understand the true meaning of charity is a gift. She makes no distinction between friend, family, or stranger.
When I first got sick, I know I wouldn't have made it through without her help. She drove me to doctors appointments, helped me with errands, and checked on me regularly.
My husband and I would do anything for her, as would the rest of her extended family, and her community. It isn't her money, her talent, or her looks that made her a beloved part of so many lives, it is her heart.
There are 30 people in this world today that would not have been here without that tiny little woman. 30 people determined to make the world a better place, that's one impressive legacy.
Sugar gives herself to others, and never asks for anything in return. She is one heck of a lady, and I hope I can be half the woman she is when I grow up, and leave just a tenth of the impact on the world.
I would consider that a life well lived.
A poem for my grandmother...
Lazy autumn days, filled with children's laughter and falling leaves. Nature puts forth one more display of color before the long cold winter is here. Watching my Grandmother in the autumn years of her life, I realize how blessed I am to have her. I would not be here if it weren't for her. She believed in me when nobody else did, not even me.
Her senior picture fascinates me, I see the innocence and fresh faced beauty of a girl with her whole life ahead of her. The skin that was once smooth and clean, now deeply creased with age. Yet she is still beautiful, she has never let the outside world taint the beauty she holds on the inside.
Each moment spent with her is an attempt to memorize everything about her, to store it up, to make it mine forever. I don't care how many times she has told me the same story, I always want to hear it just one more time. To make sure I have every single word implanted in my brain.
She has taught me so much about life, and love, and forgiveness. Yet I'm not a tenth of the woman she is. I could never suffer the kind of abuse she has endured without bitterness running through my blood. Yet her blood runs through my veins, so I must have that in me somewhere.
She is the center of my universe, the beginning and the end for each of us. She has her own colors, still even now, watching her grow and change is amazing.
Life has not been kind to her, but she has never ceased to be kind in return. She is not and never will be a victim. She faces each new challenge with a strength I can only imagine. No matter how many times she has been wronged in this life, she still has faith in the goodness of mankind. She will still help a total stranger, call an enemy a friend.
I wake up in the middle of the night, wondering how I could ever manage to live without her. I can't even imagine putting one foot in front of the other in a world where she is no longer just an arms length away. She is the glue that holds our family together, and I fear without her we will all fall apart.
In her autumn years, she has lost nothing of that innocent girl she once was. It is still there in her smile, still there when she throws back her head and laughs. She's lived a long life, and she has lived a full life. She has loved, and she has been loved.
She is still very much loved. She is our rock, our sanctuary. She is what made us whole. Yet another birthday came and passed, and I would have offered her the world as a gift if I could have. So now, as I watch her pass through her autumn years I have only one wish.
That the rest of her days be filled with nothing but love...