I come from an extremely matriarchal family. My Grandmother rules the roost, and there is nothing anyone can say or do that will ever change that fact. For as long as I can remember, Cleatice Jones has worn her imaginary crown and reigned over the Jones clan and there is no sign of her stopping anytime soon. Now, when you think of Grandmothers, I understand that you get the picture of a sweet little old lady with a perfect white bouffant, and a bible tucked under her arm. Well, not mine. My Grandma is a tough broad, in every sense of the word. She's raised six (very stubborn) kids and managed to keep her sanity. She's went without, she's made sacrifices, but she's made it. She's quick to put you in your place, if need be, and she never keeps from telling the honest and sometimes painful truth. Over the course of the nearly 25 years that I have spent with my Grandma, she has taught me many life lessons. Some of which I am just now realizing the importance of. One thing is for certain though, there is no one like your grandmother to knock some sense into you, while teaching you how to perfect the doughiest dumpling. While I could never group together in one article all the things that my Grandma has taught me, I can pick some of the biggies and share them with you guys.
Respect your elders: There is no one better to put the fear of god in you like your grandmother. Now listen, I knew my grandma would never have spanked me, but the mere thought of a tongue lashing from her was enough to send a chill down my spine. I've never even witnessed my mom, who is the undisputed queen of confrontation, talk back or stand up to my grandmother. You just don't do it. And you always treat your elders with the utmost respect, or else.
Keep tradition alive: There is nothing more important than family. This also means there is nothing more important than getting together on holidays and special occasions and whooping it up with those you love the most. Tradition can mean a lot of things, whether it be cooking a certain meal, or doing certain things together. Just keep them. Always have something special that involves family. It's becoming a lost art, and that is sad. I am so glad I live in a world where my children are passed from aunt to aunt around the dinner table. I love it, and so do they.
Learn to Cook: My Grandma always asks me what I've been cooking for my husband. She wants to make sure I am not shaming my name and being a crappy cook because she knows it sure isn't for her lack of teaching. Of course, I have set many times in her kitchen and watched as she fried chicken and made gravy. I guess you can say I know what I am doing, if not blindly, because of her.
Do NOT take any crap: My grandma's cure all for anything or anybody that's being mean to you or has wronged you is to "just knock the shit out of em". I am laughing while I type this. Now, this should not be taken literally but in the sense that, yeah, if somebody is mean to you, don't lay down and take it. Nobody should ever let anyone walk all over them, regardless.
There is no excuse to let yourself go: After having Greyson, I visited my Grandma in a state of exhaustion. My hair was unkempt, I was tired, and just not myself. She told me I had better "straighten my ass up" and that just because I had a baby was no excuse to let myself go. She was right. It's really no excuse and fixing yourself up can do wonders for your mood. Nobody wants to deal with a new, smelly, mom.
Always fight for your marriage: My grandparents have been married for nearly 60 years. My Grandpa Argene lost an arm at a young age, but he still opens doors for my Grandma, and takes her out. Supposedly, the worst fight they were ever in resulted in my Grandma throwing a whole cake at his face. She told me the day I got married that I always needed to remember to fight for my marriage, that it wouldn't always be easy. I'll never forget our conversation. Marriage is supposed to be for life, she said, adding that she had been beside my Grandpa in every aspect of their lives since they were teenagers. She also added (hilariously) that sometimes she can't stand him, or vice versa, but they belonged to each other and that is something special. I agree with her.
Spoil your children, but DONT SPOIL your children: My grandma always stressed the important of giving your children more than material things. My mom always told me that growing up with 5 brothers and sisters they may not have always have everything they wanted but they had everything they needed. There are more ways than one to spoil your kids without buying them everything under the sun, and truly spoiling them. (In other words, making them materialistic little brats.) My Grandma used to take me down to the creek and let me release messages in a bottle, walk me down the road to go slug hunting, push me on the swings and sing "swing low, sweet chariot", and made me my favorite Naomi dress (my idol from Mama's Family) that I didn't take off for weeks. All these things are seared into my mind far more than anything she could have went and bought off the shelf at a store. It's important to be active with your children and teach them things, hands on. Sure, it may be easy to buy them an ipad or a leap frog, hand it to them and go, but what's the fun it that?
Never forget your raising. Never. This is so important. How you were raised is a part of you, specifically. It's why you are the person you are. Never forget it. I know I am just the same awkward tomboy from Lost Creek who used to roll around in the chicken coup and catch craw-dads in the creek. I still run around the yard barefoot, and when I'm at my Grandma's house, I take G down to the bottom to throw rocks and look for critters. Even if I wanted to forget it, I wouldn't ever be able to. I compare it to the towering pine tree that used to stand in my Grandma's yard. 40 years of growth had rendered it massive, and they had to cut it down. Now it's only a stump. But it's still there. A reminder of what once was. That' how I feel about my childhood. I may not be that girl anymore, but deep down, I always will be and will never be able to get away from it. And never would I want to.
With this being said, I realize now more than ever how precious my Grandma is. She is invaluable to our family, the glue that holds everyone together. I'm not sure how we would ever go on without her, because without her what else is there? She is the reason we are all here. It is amazing for me to think that one woman stands for so much in the lives of so many people, but it is so true. My grandmother is an amazingly strong, and beautiful woman who has touched not only my life, but those of everyone in my family. We owe so much to our grandparents, and its' easy to forget that it won't always last forever. I am just so thankful that she enjoys my boys, and they get to enjoy her. Many people don't get the privilege. So, if you have a Grandma who is still in your life, and especially the lives of your children, go see her. Ask her questions, appreciate what she does or has done for your family. Chances are if you are from around here, your upbringing was no different than mine. It ran circularly around one person, you grandma, who kept it all together.