Family Love

The Beauty of a Grandmother

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~Franz Kafka

Grandma Muriel holds me during the winter of 1980.
Keeping warm during the winter of 1980.

My Grandma Muriel was fabulous.

She was.

Fiery, artistic and independent, my Grandma Muriel worked outside the home – an unusual arrangement for a woman during the 1950s. But she was a decorator who needed to make things beautiful. She was a crafty critter, forever knitting and beading. She transformed umbrella stands and drab pieces of office furniture into a pieces of art with gallons of Mod-Podge and photographs of daffodils and tulips.

She loved a good party, loved to be the center of attention. Being sexy was important to her. Looking good was important to her. After she lost both breasts to cancer, she spent hours primping in the mirror, making sure her clothes laid just so, that her wigs and eye-lashes curled perfectly.

She liked to be prepared for events that might happen. “You never know when there might be a party,” she’d say.

My grandma couldn’t walk into a store and simply buy one item; she bought in quantity. Part of this may have been due to the fact that she and my grandfather were in hotel and restaurant supply, so they were used to buying in bulk, but her habit extended beyond that. In her basement storehouse, hundreds of napkins were stacked alongside, plastic plates, cups and forks. The bathroom closets shelved tens of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste and dozens of bottles of Milk of Magnesia. Her kitchen pantry was always bursting with canned goods.

As a teenager, when I visited my grandparents during summer vacations, she took me shopping. “When you find something you love, buy one in every color,” she advised on more than one occasion.

My mother says it was difficult growing up with my grandmother. That my Grandma Muriel couldn’t get through a day without a glass of something or other. That she was depressed, narcissistic and unsympathetic.

But the grandmother I knew played games with me and helped me complete complicated crossword puzzles. The grandmother I knew indulged me, maybe even spoiled me. If my parents said, You can’t have those jeans, Grandma Muriel bought them for me.

She took me to ride horses. Leaning up against the other side of a broken-down fence, her thinning hair in skinny ponytails, she grinned wildly as I cantered and trotted and jumped.

Together, we visited flea markets. Under dark pavilions, we inspected the offerings. She taught me how to bargain, to name my price and be ready to walk away from whatever item I thought I wanted.

I stood in tall grass beside my grandmother, each of us wearing boots, quietly painting what we saw: she at a real easel, me on an oversized clipboard. Later, I squatted beside her in her magnificent garden, pinching Japanese beetles between our gloved fingers.

On days where the weather didn’t lend itself to outside endeavors, Grandma Muriel set me up with an old typewriter and told me to write. Sitting on her living room carpet, I tapped out stories. At night, she carried a smooth black bowl of fruit upstairs to my bedroom and sat on the edge of my bed. As I bit into a juicy black plum, my grandmother read the words I had written that day, and nodded her head. She told me I had promise, and I believed her.

The Grandma Muriel I knew was filled with joy, positive and affirming.

I suppose I pleased her.

Maybe by the time grandchildren arrived, she had relaxed, figured out what is important in life.

Or maybe she was self-medicating with alcohol and pills, as my mother suggests. I don’t know. It is not impossible for me to imagine my grandmother as difficult, opinionated and judgmental. I’m sure she was all that, too.

Just not with me.

My Grandma Muriel passed away in August 1982. Over thirty years later, I still think of her every day. She was the embodiment of beauty.


This piece in running in conjunction with other writers who are commemorating August McLaughlin’s 2nd annual Beauty of a Woman (BOAW) celebration. Check out the line-up over at her place.

118 thoughts on “The Beauty of a Grandmother

  1. I am really enjoying all these posts – they are truly so beautiful. After having children I developed the theory that the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren exists so we children can view our parents in a unique way. Sometimes my MIL could make me crazy, but when I watched her interact with my children my heart softened and filled with gratitude for her unconditional love for us. My mom says the same thing about the relationship between her mother and us kids. Your grandma sounds like she was a lovely, confident woman.

    1. To me, she was truly someone special. She made me appreciate art and music. She made me trust that my body was capable and strong. She encouraged me to be outgoing. She introduced me to her friends with so much joy. When I was with her, I felt like I could do anything. Of my four grandparents, she died first — and I was at summer camp, far away in the Adirondack Mountains, so I couldn’t attend her funeral. It felt so terribly unfair. I never really got to say goodbye.

      1. Oh! How sad to miss that opportunity to say one final goodbye to someone who meant so much to you. My oldest enjoyed a similar relationship with my mother-in-law. I’m sending her the link to your post – I think she will relate to all you said about your own grandmother.
        Hugs to you 🙂

  2. I had a fabulous grandmother also. I will post about her one of these days, but probably not as eloquently as you have here. What a special lady your grandma was, and what a great writer you are.

  3. Renee, I’m not sure I ever got to meet your Grandma Muriel, but I love her just because she said: “When you find something you love, buy one in every color.” It sounds like she encouraged you to become a writer. I’m sure she would have loved your blog posts!

    1. My grandmother encouraged me to do everything: run, jump, dress up, make art, dance, sing, ride horses, write stories. She was a cool lady. That said, she was a controversial lady. Not everyone loved her the way I did. But we connected like Wonder Twins.

  4. Sounds like a really neat lady.

    As to the difference in how your Mom and you viewed her – to your Mom she had to be a disciplinarian. To your Mom she was the one who said no. This made your Mom more sensitive to her faults.

    At least that’s what the writer in me says 🙂


    1. Apparently, she (and my grandfather) were both known for hitting both my mother and her brother. I’m guessing that might make a person harbor some anger. But she was always gentle with me. Like I said, I think I pleased her. She taught me how to play every card game in the book, and I’ve taught those games to my son. 😉

      1. My wife was scared of her father. Our children thought he was an old teddy bear. People change, sometimes a lot, in very few years.

        Dad never meant to scare my wife, he was just bringing her up the way he was brought up, by a set of very stiff upper lip British parents. Children were meant to be seen and not heard! At some point he realized that he was wrong, and set out deliberately to change. He even sat down and talked to my wife about it, which totally blew her mind, and made him a real hero to her.


  5. What a beautiful post! I think it doesn’t matter if your mom’s memory/analysis is accurate — all that matters is the experience you had. I do think it’s easier for grandchildren to enjoy their grandparents without all of the baggage adults bring– that’s one of the special things about that relationship. I do wonder about the difference between family members’ recollections of each other. I’ve written a little about that in my blog and might write more. Sort of related– my sister and I have some very different memories/analyses of our mom. I wonder how much of the difference is due to our own personality/view/situation and how much is due to reality.

    Anyway, enjoy your sweet memories!

    1. Hi Shari! I’ve been working on a book with themes dealing with 3 generations of women. I have been drawing heavily on some of the complexities of my relationships with my mother and her mother. And then, course, there is a lot of jazz hands and pixie dust in there, too. It is fascinating how different people have such different recollections. I’ll have to pop over and see what you have written on the subject. Is there a particular post that you think I might love on the topic? Feel free to slap the link up here!

  6. This reminds me of my Grandma Gregg. My father had difficulties with her, but with me she was an indulgent teacher; the creator of museum-quality dolls that lived in their own room until they were purchased or given away; an incredible cook; a giver of hugs, kisses, love. How I miss her.

    1. Oh Ellen: Isn’t it crazy how these our our powerful matriarchs and their memories linger. I love the idea that your grandmother created dolls that lived in a room of their own. That is the concept for a very cool story. Hmmm. Have you done anything with that?

    1. She was an interesting person because she had this under-layer where she didn’t feel beautiful: hence the wigs and the make-up — but she knew how to transform herself, which she would do for big gatherings. But the rest of the time, she walked around wearing her hair in these skinny ponytails tied of with macramé string. SHe didn’t really worry about what folks thought about her by the time I came alone. Once she let me touch the long scar on her chest (after she’d lost her breasts to cancer.) It was one of the most intimate moments of my life. I asked her if she missed having boobs. She said it didn’t bother her — and that’s what padded bras were for. It was my first lesson that boobs did not make a woman. That we are, instead, the sum of all our parts.

  7. I did meet your grandmother Muriel several times. I saw many of the great qualities you mentioned. She always impressed me as a “lady.” I always noticed she enjoyed clothes and style. And I know she adored her grandchildren.

    1. Marlene: She was definitely a lady — but she wasn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty. She loved to play in the mud in her garden. I have a plant in our house that I took from the house after my grandfather passed away. I still have it. It bloomed when we bought our very first house. It was like she was saying: Yes, yes. I’m so very happy for you. This is a good place for you. It hasn’t bloomed since. I am forever looking for messages in her flowers.

  8. I relate to everything about this. I think it’s common for grandkids to see their grandparents in a completely different light than their parents. Love what you said about your grandmother always wanting to look good–just in case. My grandmothers were the same way. I wonder if that was something of a generation thing that we don’t have now–considering the way we all (must to my mother’s chagrin, too,) wander around in leggings.

    1. My grandmother was definitely a “look good in case” kind of lady. Check this out: when I was young, she used to leave her front door unlocked and it wasn’t unheard of to find strangers crashed on the floor of her living room. Once my brother and I watched cartoons while some dude was fast asleep beside us. Can you even imagine? She was a trusting soul. I think that ended after they were robbed.

  9. It’s funny how parents transform into grandparents. Growing up, my dad was no bueno… But he is wonderful with my girls. We don’t see the same person. And I’m happy with that. And proud of him for becoming a better person.

    Old people are funny like that.



  10. That’s a great picture Renee, and your grandma sounds like she was an excellent partner in crime. Most people tend to have a few sides to them, and as humans it’s easy for us to say “oh so and so is bad because of X” without appreciating the good about them.

    1. Oh, Lord. My grandmother was truly a character, Joe. I asked August if it was okay to present someone who wasn’t perfect and she said the posts would be about all different kinds of topics. She wasn’t kidding. his one nestles in quite nicely. I am so proud to be part of this series — and to have captured the complexities of her character in a way that seems fair.

      1. You did a good job of balancing it. I think the complexities of her character and quality of her relationship with you are what make her interesting. I’m glad to have met you & Jess, both of your posts are great and segued me to a bunch of other stuff =)

  11. Renee: This post is such a beautiful, touching way to honor your Grandmother Muriel. I am positive she was smiling down as you typed each and every word. I was reminded of my Great Grandmother Sadie (who died at age 92 in 1992) when reading it. My parents viewed her as a stubborn, cankerous old woman. I, on the other hand, looked up to her, and wanted to learn from her wisdom and beauty.

    Thank you for sharing your memories of this beautiful woman with us…

    1. Krystal! How lucky you were to have your grandmother until she was 92. I had my father’s mother (my Nanny) until she was in her 90s. She was another wonderful woman, and I have written about her as well. She was an interesting woman as well; kind of the opposite of my Grandma Muriel in some ways. I wrote about here here (in case you are interested).

      Have you written about your Great Grandmother Sadie? If so, drop me the link! I’d love to read about her.

      1. Oh, thank you! Can’t wait to read about your nanny…I love this type of family perspective writing – there is something so authentic and loving about it…I have not written about my Great Grandma Sadie, but you have inspired me.

    1. I had to dig around to find that one, but I’m really glad that I did. My parents sent me some fun old photos which I will likely use in the future. But this was the one I was looking for. You can just tell how much we loved each other.

  12. Lovely. It’s actually quite interesting to me to think of the perspective that my children have of my mother. Much like your own mother, I see my mother in a very negative light. But to my kids, she’s just Nana. I know they see some of the things that I also see in my mom, but I never say anything negative about her to them. I want them to remember her as fun Nana. I don’t know that they will, but it won’t be me that takes that away from them. If anyone does, it will most likely be her. I wish I remembered my grandparents enough to have some of these wonderful memories that you have. They are really priceless.

    1. It’s hard when your impression is so different than your children’s. You don’t want to poison their experience with their grandmother but then, I’m sure, you remember old wounds. I understand this. Completely. I think it is big of you to not get in the way of your kids’ relationships with their grandmother. Not easy, not big of you. For real. My mother did that, too — and for that, I am grateful.

  13. Renee, I have sat with this post since yesterday afternoon. I wrapped it around me like a warm blanket, reflecting on my own mother and my dad’s mother, who in many ways were similar to your grandmother. They were spirited women, gentle yet strong. And that, to me, is always the embodiment of beauty. What a blessing you had to have had her in your life, and what a blessing to me that you shared.

    1. MBL: I’m so glad that you got the essence of this post. My grandmother was truly the essence of that warm blanket for me. She was a comfort to me — always. Back in the days when telephone calls were 7 cents after 6 pm, I used to sit in a chair with the corded telephone, waiting to talk to her for 10 glorious minutes. These days, my mother sounds just like my grandmother on the phone. It’s spooky! But the content isn’t the same. I’m so happy to know you had fabulous women in your life, too. They really do mold us into who we are. 😉

  14. Renée, I would quite like your grandmother Muriel. I too am a grandmother. I adore my twin 17 year old granddaughters. I too believe you should one in every color, though with my finances dwindling, this is becoming harder to do. She sound like everything a grandmother should be. That’s what I strive to be. I hope that’s what my granddaughters remember about me. She tried to be everything a grandmother should be.

    1. Maire: From the moment you showed up here, I have been so happy to know you and read your words. Your feisty words are always from the heart. You speak your truth without apology. I so look forward to seeing your icon here because I know you are going to say something fabulous. I’ll bet you are a freaking awesome grandmother. How could you be anything besides? Thank you for your comment here today. It means the world.

  15. Your grandma sounds amazing. My husband’s grandmother was most like a grandmother to me. My mom’s parents lived far away and we rarely saw them b/c my mom and her mom had “issues.” My dad’s mom lived near us, but there were issues there, too. Oy! But dh’s grandparents? Sweet to me, treated me as if I was their own! loved this, Renee!

    1. Erin: That is the COOLEST kind of love. Because it isn’t about bloodlines. You chose each other. Sometimes that is even more special, you know? You elected to love each other. I think that is really beautiful. Your DH’s mother would be so proud of all the work you are doing now, don’t you think?

      1. I’ve missed you too, Renée! 😀 Work has kept me extremely busy as of late. Your feelings for Grandma Muriel remind me of my grandmother. Her passing marked me years ago, but the way she expressed herself to her grand children left quite the legacy.

        1. As I said, not a day goes by that I don’t think of my grandmother — so she made her mark on my heart. That’s for sure.

          Please know I miss your writings. And your comments. I’ll be here when you post something new.

  16. I love the balance here; that you’re willing to accede to another side to your grandmother while celebrating the one that lives in your heart.

    How lucky you were to have had this inspiring moments with her; how lucky she is to be remembered with so much love.

    1. That’s it exactly, Julie. My grandmother had different aspects to her personality. I can imagine she had all the complexities that people suggest. SHe was not perfect. August didn’t say we had to describe a PERFECT woman. She said to describe our ideas of beauty. Well, my grandmother was the embodiment of beauty for me. And just because she behaved one way with some people doesn’t diminish my experiences with her.

  17. Lovely! It sounds like your grandmother was a true blessing in your life.

    I sometimes think the mother/daughter dynamic is such that we never can fully appreciate our own mothers the way others can – that we lack objectivity. Gives me pause when I think about my OWN mom.

  18. I would have loved to have met your grandmother. What a glorious soul. You are blessed to have had such a lovely woman in your life. Thank you for sharing her with us.

      1. Billy Joel said it the best – only the good die young. No matter how unfair it seems to us, God needed her more. She’s now an angel protecting and watching out for you. What a lovely gift for your life. Treasure her memory forever. It’s what keeps her alive on this earth and in your heart.

  19. I am loving the BOAW posts. What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. Maybe your mother saw a different person because her mother was working and when grandchildren came along there was more time. Thank you for sharing your grandmother with all of us.

    1. Hi Kathryn: My grandmother was a complicated person. I think she put herself and her needs first when her children were young; that didn’t go over so well. But by the time I showed up, she’d slowed down (though not entirely), but enough so that we could really enjoy life. That said, I think she wasn’t always fair the way she showed love. She had favorites — which isn’t fair. I just happened to be in her favor. So I can only share my view of my grandmother, but I know there is another view that is less complementary. Still, it doesn’t diminish my view — you know?

  20. I love that your grandmother was so special to you. All my grandparents were important to me, although my maternal grandfather died when I was only three. I treasure memories of him, too.

    I just hope when my grandkids have kids and grandkids of their own they treasure memories of me.

  21. Love this Renee. I didn’t see my maternal grandmother all that much because we lived so far away, but I do remember having very soft feelings for her, ones that definitely snagged on my mom’s more complicated memories of her mother.

    1. We lived several hours away from the Catskill Mountains where my grandparents’ lived, but I can still picture Exit 99 and get a little rush. I loved going to visit. Liberty, NY meant visiting cousins and aunts and uncles and parties and Sunday mornings with lox and bagels and cream cheese and giant kosher pickles. Le sigh. For me, those were the good old days. 😉 Funny how one granddaughter’s good ole days can bump up against her mother’s memories.

  22. The dynamics between a mother and her child as opposed to a grandmother and her grandchild is so different. I had a similar relationship with my paternal grandmother, while my dad could barely tolerate her. I never really understood it. I adored her.

    This a such a loving tribute to a complex, passionate woman. Aren’t we all complicated, though? I loved reading this.

    1. Hi Mary! We are sooooo complicated; it’s true! I’m trying to capture these kinds of complexities in my WIP, and it is just so difficult — weaving together these kinds of different perspectives. Thank you for dropping by. It means the world.

  23. Being a grandmother is a very special role indeed and it sounds like your Grandma Muriel knew precisely what to do and how to love you in that special grandmotherly way. I am “Nana” to six fabulous grandchildren. At this point in my life one of my top priorities is the time I spend with them and the memories we make. I hope that in thirty years they will write that I was fabulous too. Lovely, lovely post that I know Grandma Muriel is enjoying!

    1. Patricia! You must be a wonderful Nana! You are so filled with joy, I’m sure your grandchildren just eat you up! I hope you don’t have to wait thirty years for them to write about you! May they write about you in poems and stories now! My grandmother passed away thirty years ago, but I think of her every day! That is the power one woman can make! Cool, huh, to think that you can have THAT kind of impression on someone — if you want to.

  24. Gorgeous. This was so feminine in its entire approach. It is nurturing and fulfilling. Your grandmother sounds like my mother. I wish I had the childlike perspective to appreciate her whimsy, but being a child who needed someone dependable in charge left me with few alternatives. You are lucky to have had Muriel. I had a great aunt “Alshee” who was an alternative, but a senior citizen by the time I arrived on the scene. She had a similar impact on me as your Muriel. Safety without fear, indulgence without spoil.

    I just learned about this “Beauty of a Woman” blogfest today and I wish I’d participated. It’s an unassuming yet powerful collection of celebration. Way to go Renee and August and everyone else! 🙂

    1. Molly! I was just thinking of you today! I should have told you about this thing with all us WANAs. It is truly a cool festival celebrating women, and I’m sure you would have written something lovely. This is my first year participating, but this is August’s 2nd #BOAW. I hope there will be BlogHop like this for many years to come. So wonderful for all of us to see how all these pieces fit together. It is pretty powerful, taken together, don’t you think?

  25. You’re making me wish I’d had a Grandma Muriel! I had two grandmas that were nice enough, but neither was very passionate about their grandchildren. Still, I lucked out and had a mother who was plenty interested in me so I never missed it.

    My husband and I have no living parents. In reading about the the joy you shared with your grandma, I’m seeing many things I can do with my daughter so she doesn’t feel the lack. Thanks, Renee!

    1. I was truly lucky to have two wonderful, involved grandmothers. My son doesn’t have quite the relationship with his grandparents. It kind of bums me out. I know they love him, but I really felt cherished. I don’t think he has that feeling coming from either side — but you know what? I could be wrong about that. Who knows what he feels! And perhaps it is his connection with his dad that will be the strongest bond in his life. As long as there is someone who makes you feel loved loved loved, you know?

  26. wonderful post! i am fortunate to still have my maternal grandmother in my life. i think the relationship between grandparent and grandchild is very special. thank you for sharing!

    1. I read your post! You are soooooo lucky to have your maternal grandmother in your life. I felt so ripped off, having lost her so young. That really blew. But when I look at old photographs, it is really cool to see how much I look like her. I’m cool with that. Maybe one day, I’ll be a fabulous grandmother, too.

  27. Grandma Muriel had such pizazz, Renee. What wonderful recollections you have and thank you so much for sharing them with us. It sounds like the two of you were kindred spirits, and we can see the influence she’s had on you in your writing. My grandmother also encouraged me to write, and is a great inspiration for me now. Thank you for visiting our site and commenting, BTW. 🙂

    1. Yeah, for real, my grandmother made me fall in love with words. My first cousin and I used to love to tap out stories on her typewriter. Feeling those keys under my fingers. I don’t know: something magical happened for me in her house under her guidance. I didn’t realize there were two of you. I apologize! Thank you for sharing your post! So nice to meet you — both! 😉

  28. Your grandmother Muriel sounds like a pip. I think when I’m a grandma, I’m cool like her. I didn’t grow up near my grandparents (only saw them every other summer on family trips), and my parents are the lamest grandparents on the planet, so it’s important to me that when my kids have kids, they know they’re loved. It’s interesting how your mom saw your grandma differently, but I suppose we always do.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I loved getting to know you a bit more and your Muriel.

    1. My grandparents lived about 3 & 1/2 hours away in the Catskills. Too far away for us to just bop in and visit, but those holidays where we visited are embedded in my mind. I loved everything about her house — every nook and cranny. It was a great place to play hide and seek, to try on fancy old party dresses. I still have dreams where I’m in that house. I’m sure you’ll be a wicked cool grandma! 😉

  29. —–Beautiful, descriptive, powerful writing, Renee.
    I love the relationship you had w/ your grandmother. I love that as a child, you only soaked up her beauty & not her flaws.

    You always, always move me. Xxx

    1. Hi Kim. I adored my grandma. And while I appreciated her, I also recognized she wasn’t a perfect person. And who among us is? I know she hurt some people I care about, but I don’t believe she did so intentionally. Like everyone, she did the best she knew how to do. It worked for me — but not for everyone. These impressions are mine, you know?

  30. Renee, your writing here is spectacular. I loved getting to know your Grandmother through your beautiful words. This is such a great reminder that none of us can simply be described as light or dark, we’re all a mix of all the colors in the crayon box. My mom wasn’t a particularly great mother to me, but let me tell you, she is the most spectacular grandmother to my daughters. I’m certain they will never forget her. As for my grandmother, I think of her often. Her warmth and generous hugs got me through my childhood and I often wish for one more of those hugs. Thanks for sharing your Grandmother with me. Apparently, you inherited all of her wonderful qualities!

  31. I had one grandmother whom I adored. She was a passionate woman like you described. But she never bought me stuff like you got. If we went to the movies it was BYO. LOL. I still loved her deeply. This was such a beautiful idea, Renee. I loved reading about your grandmother. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Debra! First of all, I loved your vlog today! Soooo funny! You should know that my grandmother showed love by showering people with gifts. But it was also one of the ways she hurt people, too. I grew aware of this as I grew older. With me, it wasn’t do much about the stuff. It was more about the adventure. She always wanted to buy me things — and sometimes she did. But the best times were just driving around with her, walking beside her or kneeling in her garden. Truly, those are the memories I cherish most.

  32. My mom says that grandkids are a parents reward for raising their own kids. Looks like your grandma really cherished her reward (you). Thanks for sharing Ms. Muriel with us. You painted a very bright and beautiful portrait of her personality.

    1. I can’t even imagine being a grandparent. And yet when I think about how much I Iove my son, well…it stands to reason that I would go ga-ga over his children. Hopefully, he’ll still dig me enough to want me to be part of his children’s lives. But let’s not rush things. He’s only 13 & 1/2, you know?

  33. Your Grandma Muriel would be so proud of you. She would be so flattered that you wrote about her. By the way,YOU have many of her talents. She was a true perfectionist. I know with authority she adored you. If Grandma Muriel was still alive she would hug you very tightly and thank your for these lovely words. In conclusion, She would say Renee, you made my life beautiful. I love you Renee.”

    1. Thank you, mom. Your words are affirmation enough that I was loved that hard. Because it feels do long ago, and it doesn’t feel possible. I still miss her. I do. She was something else. Thanks for letting me be with her, even when it wasn’t easy for you.

    1. Hi August! I’m feeling kind of goosebumpy right about now. Thank you for setting up this fabulous affirmation to beauty. The posts are stunning. And I’m only halfway through my reading. I’ll hit the rest over the weekend. You should be so proud. This is quite a phenomenon! Thank you for including me in this stunning line-up.

  34. Renee, you have a beautiful way with words. This prose about your grandmother is incandescently lovely! I would’ve loved to know your grandmother, her joie de vivre and even her shortcomings, make her sound so real and incredibly…huggable. Maybe it was the photo. But you tell a beautiful story! Cheers to you and to Muriel!

  35. I am in WI and have spotty internet.
    Lovely post! I was my grandmother’s favorite too. She and my mother had their ups and downs. It was sometimes hard to understand. It is always good to remember the beauty in those we love.

  36. Renee, this is such a beautiful post. Your memories of your grandmother are lovely. Her feisty spirit reminds me a lot of my grandmother. It’s always difficult to correlate two very different opinions about someone we love. Perhaps you’re right, time and experience likely mellowed your grandmother and she learned from any mistakes she’d made with your mother. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult for us to let go of such deeply hurt feelings. Hopefully time will see to that, too.

  37. I’m impressed at the spirit and love your grandmother had.

    I’m even more blown away at the detail you remembered her with. Because of this, she kind of lives on, you know? Not only in the impact she had on you, but the way you remember and share her memory. Well done.

  38. I wonder if there’s a corresponding series called Practicality of a Man (POAM). I’m envisioning headings like Tasks Accomplished and Methods, featuring a great deal of ordered lists and instructional diagrams (slide tab A into slot B — clearly not a euphemism…not in a comment on a post about your grandma…there are limits, jon). Anyhow, that would probably make for some awfully dull reading. I prefer what you wrote.

  39. “She told me I had promise, and I believed her.”

    That is profound. Would that every child had someone to do this for them, the world would be a magnificent place. Gorgeous, gorgeous post. xoxo

  40. Maybe a bit of everything…it’s possible the hurts from your mom’s history has jaded her to see your grandmother the way you did. One person can be different things to many people.

  41. I loved this! I’m so glad you were able to have such an extraordinary relationship with your grandmother. We don’t all have that chance. I wish I had been closer to either of mine. Thank you for sharing!

  42. I love this post. My grandmother Ruth passed away when I was eleven. I still wish I could have had more time with her. She was such an interesting person. My dad recalls her being quite difficult and a drinker, but I never knew that side of her. I think she probably mellowed out in her older age as well.

  43. And tears yet again over this beautiful weekend. Thank God for the best of themselves our grandmothers showed us. I knew mine could be a catty you-know-what, and she had difficult relationships with 3 of her 4 children (because of strikingly similar reasons as yours), but she was a wonder to me and to the daughter I had alone at twenty. You wrote of yours beautifully, judiciously, yet with rich description. Nicely done.

  44. All thse grandmother stories make me aware that I missed out by never knowing one (in fact mine is a tiny family : no brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandfathers either). I somehow feel that it’s been hard for me to be a good grandmother in my turn. Not a clue how it’s done really. I really think you have to learn these skills from others. Lovely post by the way!

  45. Beautiful post, Renee! I had an amazing grandmother who lived in the desert and had a tame roadrunner who ate from her hand. Loved spending summers with her. She too died 30 years ago…thank you for sharing these lovely memories.

  46. Um, probably shouldn’t mention this, but I sold a short story titled Grandma which is in the What Scares the Boogey Man? anthology. She really isn’t like Renée’s Grandma. Nor mine. Not sure where she came from, but I can’t get her out of my head, now she wants her own book.


      1. It does seem that ‘Grandma’ wants me to tell at least part of her story. I’ve got her back history worked out for about five hundred years so far, and I know it goes way further back than that. In fact I think she was originally a Homo Habilis.

        Yes, we are talking a long lived supernatural creature. Not necessarily a nasty one, but she does get hungry every so often…


  47. Grandma Muriel sounds pretty cool. I think being responsible for children changes people. Sometimes it brings out the worse in them, sometimes the best. Grandchildren are easier to get along with. My own mother was no pie growing up but she’s wonderful with the grand-daughters.

  48. What a stunning tribute to your grandmother! The part toward the end where she brought you fruit and read your writing… ah! I almost cried. How beautiful you got to experience a grandmother like that. Someone who so clearly encouraged your young abilities and gave you such amazing memories to hold dear. What a treasure!

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