ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

10 Life Lessons I Learned From Observing My Grandmother

Updated on April 14, 2011

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a living and breathing image must exceed millions, at least in my estimation. Watching and observing my paternal grandmother go about her daily life as I went about mine (college student, free rent, you get the picture) was one way I got to know her more. Over time, I gleaned a few life lessons just by noting some of her ways which I share here.

Let me further preface this by adding that I conversed with my grandmother plenty of times. She can definitely talk and can especially relate with astounding clarity (and length) events of yesteryear like it was last night's dinner. There were, at the same time, plenty of moments, those in-between ones if you will, where in the course of each of my busy days I quietly witnessed Grandma living her life and found that to be revealing.

Much of what I list below are concepts that are already familiar to us all. I found that living with my grandmother offered me additional insight and perspective that reaffirmed and deepened my understanding of practical wisdom. That said, I was learning all along.

1. Frugality has its place.
Grandma would page through circulars, stay abreast of sales, and stock the fridge and pantry with her finds. Meals were never extravagant but tasty, satisfying and relatively healthy. Lights were kept off and energy saved. Old tools or items were re-purposed or reused. Higher-ticket items were limited to special purchases (see #3).
2. Give what you can for there's always someone in need.
Spools of colorful yarn frequently draped the couch where Grandma sat and knitted while her favorite TV shows played one after the other. Lovely baby layettes were produced (even with her arthritic hands) and given to charity. Homegrown fruits and vegetables were often set aside to share with visitors or other family members.
3. Quality over quantity.
As much as frugality plays a clear role in Grandma's life, she pays more for quality where she feels it counts. When her television broke after years of daily use, she set out to purchase one that would fit the same bill. I recall returning home one day to find a fairly large, nice-looking, higher-quality TV in the family room. Grandma did her shopping.
4. Structure and routine builds character.
Every morning Grandma would start her day off with breakfast, a crossword puzzle and a short walk with the dog. Lunch was preceded by a series of her favorite TV shows. Afternoons were typically errands and housework scheduled around a nap. After dinner, more TV and some reading or knitting closed the day. This routine was her daily norm. While I initially found it curious, I soon observed how it allowed Grandma to live her life as independently as she did. Having that kind of personal structure seemed to give her a certain flow to deal with the ins and outs of life at 90 years of age. I suspected that this was a patterned approach years in the making and assisted her through the years with supporting a husband and raising a large family before.
5. Exercise your extremities, including your head.
Aside from walking the dog, cleaning the house and maintaining the backyard garden, Grandma made sure her mind was engaged by reading stacks of books, conquering crossword puzzles, watching shows like Jeopardy and even using email and bill pay on the computer. Grandma showed that staying proactive about one's health is a daily endeavor.
6. Eat less, talk more.
Grandma typically prepared just enough for meals and never ate too much. Instead, I noted her using mealtimes to catch up with whoever was around or eating with her. Whether this was related to years of frugality, a disposition for talking, or a combination of both, observing this taught me that eating is as personal as it is social. I learned that relationships are important to Grandma and that breaking bread with others can be just as nourishing as what you fork or spoon into your own mouth. Oh, and eating less has been scientifically shown to increase longevity (Grandma is a case in point perhaps).
7. Cleanliness counts.
Cleaning seemed to be one of Grandma's fortes but after watching her for awhile I came to the conclusion it was solid repetition at work. While my own mother was exemplary at keeping a tidy home, observing Grandma maintain her own home reaffirmed to me the merits of cleanliness. Forgoing the obvious, I learned how much it plays a part in uplifting an environment's ambience and I soon found myself more grateful about coming home to a clean, welcoming home. Being in college and seeing other examples of dorm rooms or student apartments made the distinction clearer.
8. Take time for yourself.
Even at the ripe age of 90, I'd catch Grandma with pink painted nails and pretty dangling earrings. A glass of red or white wine was also a part of her daily repertoire and it was obvious it wasn't just about the antioxidants. By taking time for herself, Grandma enhanced the quality of her life.
9. Expect the best, do your best.
By her daily routines, and staying active and busy, Grandma taught me that she believed in herself and her abilities and kept moving along with life. Even when age or other factors could severely limit her, Grandma still carried on with life; mowing the lawn and taking the red beamer out to the store didn't seem to phase her much. She made do within the parameters of what she could do and she seemed to be better off for it (she was relatively healthy compared to her peers). It taught me that respecting yourself means you expect the best and you give your very best to get there.
10. Cherish your family.
I never considered my dad's side of the family affectionate; in fact, I kind of felt that they were more stoic and reserved if anything (until the alcohol came out). However, Grandma would greet family members with a warm hug and kiss. As a recipient of such myself, I gradually learned to open up and be more free with expressions of appreciation for fellow family members when we met or gathered. Grandma's behavior reinforced the age-old adage that "blood is thicker than water" and that I best not forget it.

What kinds of lessons or pearls of wisdom have you learned from observing your grandparent?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 

      3 years ago from New York, NY

      Sharing the Sky, this is one awesome hub! I loved it, particularly, because I have such a close relationship with my grandmother who will be 97 soon. Wow, aren't grandmother's awesome. Having a grandmother is also one of life's testaments that examples speak with greater intensity than lectures.

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is now one of my favorite hubs!

      Wishing you much continued success in the new year.

    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      FaithDream- Indeed, I learned quite a few lessons from my grandmother and I'm grateful she's still around so that I can appreciate her more. Thanks for stopping by.

    • FaithDream profile image


      7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Great article.. your grandmother taught you some valuable lessons. Nice job!

    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi J.S. Matthew- Thanks for the comments! Much appreciated.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What a wonderful Hub! Very personal and well written! I enjoyed reading this Hub.


    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks Om! Indeed, I've learned that it's really easy to take family members for granted but so often, everyone, especially our elders, have a great deal to share and impart to us. Glad to hear you've experienced this within your own family.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful hub. You have such a great role model in your family. I've learned a lot from my two grandmas as well. One of them is gone, but the other is still healthy and very eager to give me great advice about life whenever I need it.

    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Toran,

      Yes, grandparents are precious and I'm sure being one is just as precious. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Toran Sheftick profile image

      Toran Sheftick 

      7 years ago from White Plains

      aww grammy

    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Steph, thank you for the kind words. Reading about other people's life experiences on hubpages has allowed me to tap more into my own. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Steph Harris profile image

      Steph Harris 

      7 years ago from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

      A wonderful, inspiring hub, thank you for sharing your insights from your grandmas' life.

    • sharing the sky profile imageAUTHOR

      sharing the sky 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi Vadette971, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comment. I hope you get to see your grandmother soon too. I haven't seen mine in awhile. Thanks for the reminder. Have a good day now.

    • vadette971 profile image


      7 years ago from Zambales, Philippines

      very nice hub. Hope to see my gandma soon.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)