Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Woman with a Heart of Gold (history, volume 5)

(this is part 5 of an ongoing memoir series.  Read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 first for everything to make more sense...)

Those Detroit days were golden.  The days before you can really remember all the details.  The days before the teenaged angst.  Days of learning to ride bikes and sleepovers and being in plays.

Holidays with grandma and my gaggle of cousins.

I loved talking about my grandma last week.  We need more about her.

Kathryn, before her 14 children and her 32 grandchildren and thirtysomething (and counting!) great-grandchildren.  Just Kay, on a date with her beau Tony.

Anthony, with his smirk and that eyebrow.  Who left this world too, too soon but still managed to leave a legacy any man would be proud of.

And then the two of them together with their brood in my most favorite photo of all time.  Grandma used to keep this in a frame in her living room.  Gosh, how I loved poring over those faces when I was little, figuring out who was who, giggling at their different expressions.

For her 70th birthday, someone rented a hall.  He told her he was taking her out to dinner, but instead he brought her to her very own surprise birthday party, filled with her kids and her grandkids and food and drink and fun.  And she was in heaven.  Those of us old enough to remember that night remember it oh so fondly.  Hours spent back and forth on facebook teasing about too-big hair and "kissing up" to grandma by wearing her favorite color.

Then it was my wedding, and she was there.  So happy and beautiful.  Can you believe she's 82 in this photo?  The grandma of perpetual youth!

I want the world to be more like her. So I ask "What would grandma do?".  She would hug you and feed you.  She would invite you to come back again.  She would worry about you and fuss over you and sometimes push you a little harder than you wanted to be pushed.  But it would work and be good and you'd be glad.  She would wrap you in the blanket of her gentle generosity.  She would brew her own beer.

She was a convert herself, my grandma was.  From Russian Orthodox to Roman Catholic.  She was so selfless.  She never mumbled about anything being inconvenient or uncomfortable, and in putting others first she found joy and peace.

Because I'm no good at getting up every day and saying "today I will be like Jesus", I am too lowly and weak, I will instead get up and say "today I will be like Kathryn".  And then maybe the world around me will start looking a little more like her too.

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  1. Your grandmother in the first picture - how beautiful!! Love the various photos of her and her big family - happiness!

    And your wedding picture, how pretty are you? She sounds like a wonderful grandmother.

  2. Well it's obvious she mirror Him, so although you're changing the name, the goal is the same.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to her!! And seriously, she looks WAY younger in that wedding picture - and you look gorgeous!

  4. The world would be a much better place if we all lived the mantra WWGD? AMEN!

  5. Neither of my grandma's lived to see my wedding. My husband's grandmother is 91 and still mentoring several generations. I remind him constantly how lucky is (he knows it :).
    Thanks for this. You and she were lucky to have one another!
    (and btw how were you smart enough to choose a timeless and elegant wedding dress which you will never cringe at when viewing your wedding photos?).

  6. I just got lucky that that dress was on sale at the cheapo bridal mart, MB! ;P

    Thank you for your sweet comments. She was an amazing person and I'm so lucky to be related to her!

  7. Grandmas are so special. I will be thankful for every moment I had with mine. Sounds like you had an amazing one too. She would have loved reading this!
    And I spotted you in the 80s wedding photo in about .2 seconds. Too cute, girl.

  8. aww this is great. i love grandma posts!

  9. This is such a beautiful tribute.
    What a family! I thought my parents had large families (my dad is one of 8, my mom one of 6)!

  10. That has to be you in the polka dots and red?! Your grandma stayed young! What was their secret? Certainly wasn't easy living.

  11. Yes, that is totally me in the polka dots and snazzy red tights :)

    I think her secret was happy. She found the happy and the love in everything...

  12. The series of family pictures is wonderful!
    thank you for sharing your story

  13. What a beautiful tribute to your grandma and to your family, really. I can understand why that third photo, the black-and-white of your family at Christmas, is a favorite. Love it. You might want to consider entering it in the "Snapshots of Love" contest at Minnesota Moments magazine.

    Yes, you can live outside of Minnesota to enter. Nina over at Camp Honeybelle and Bernie over at Budugalee are offering goodies as part of our $150 prize package. Just go to for contest details.

    As always, an enjoyable, heartfelt post.

  14. I love this post. There is something elegant and feminine about your grandmother in that first picture. Then the black and white with all her kids. Wow. How proud...and beautiful!
    Thank you for allowing us to meet her.

  15. I am so thoroughly ensconced in your family story and I just can't get enough! I love reading about your Grandma...I've been wanting to write about my own for a while now...there's just so much to say and I don't know where to start. Thank you Dweej for sharing so much of yourself here.

  16. Just beautiful! You have a wonderful Grandma ... what a great decision to daily decide to be like her. :)

  17. It doesn't always work...I'll be honest. But I do give it my best! :)

  18. "She found the happy and the love in everything..." She was so blessed, and so were you.

    And you, dear Dweej...that million dollar smile in every picture, just like your grandma. I see happy and love in your face as well.

  19. What a beautiful post. I had a wonderful grandma too. I think I will use your mantra also - What would Grandma do?

  20. That's beautiful. There's just something so special about grandmothers, isn't there? I'm glad you had such a great relationship with her.

  21. Dwija, this was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. She sounds like the type of person that I would love to know! And your post makes me want to give my own grandmother a huge hug. Beautifully written, girl!


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