It has been a very long time since I last posted. And I’m not going to make excuses, because I know I should have been posting; I will, however, offer you an explanation: I was planning my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party.
A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend ~ Unknown
On March 24, my Grandma turned 90 years old; and I was not going to let this monumental milestone pass without occasion! 90 is no ordinary age! And anyone who knows me knows that my relationship with my grandmother is no ordinary one…
For me, my Grandma is “a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend”.
A little bit parent
My Grandma raised me. I essentially grew up at her house: when I was a toddler, my grandmother offered to look after me while my Mom and Dad went to work; so, during the week, I would stay with her, and then on the weekends I would go home to my parents. By the time I started school, I was so comfortable at my Grandma’s house, my parents let me stay with her and my Auntie (my Mom’s sister, who was living there); and this split-week arrangement continued well into my teenage years.
So, while most people have one mother–at best, two–I have been blessed with three. I was co-raised by three amazing women; and all three of them have played a very important role in making me who I am today.
My Grandma, in particular, instilled in me the importance of having a good work ethic, constantly reminding me to “put [my] shoulder to the wheel”; keeping my priorities straight: “boys and books don’t mix”; and striving for excellence: “it’s not enough to do 100%, you must always do 150%”. She made sure that I never strayed too far away from the straight-and-narrow, which would sometimes grate on my nerves when I was growing up, but I can honestly say I’m so grateful for today.
A little bit teacher
My Grandma encouraged me to learn. When I was younger, she used to read to me; and once I knew how, she would let me read to her, so that I could get better at it. My Grandma (and Auntie) would make me recite poems and other readings to teach me how to speak in front of an audience. My Grandma also taught me how to bake and sew; how to be a “proper lady”; and, above all, how to be a good Christian.
A little bit best friend
My Grandma is my girlfriend, believe it or not. She used to take me with her everywhere she would go–especially shopping on the Danforth and to her church events–and even as far as Florida and London, England!
My Grandma has been a constant source of strength and encouragement for me; she is by no means perfect, but she is always present. She has always been there for me–and as long as it has been within her power to do so–she has been there with me at every major event in my life, since Day One literally (I was born at the hospital where she used to work). Whenever I am feeling down or I have a problem, I know that I can call her to be a listening ear and to offer a good word of advice.
A little bit role model
Having grown up with my Grandmother, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about her (I mean, we used to share the same bed, at one point, even!) Over the years, I had had the unique privilege of witnessing her strength, sagacity, skillfulness, sternness, along with her surprising sense of humour- some of the very things that make my Grandma special- first-hand. But it wasn’t until I planned this party that I really got a chance to know her. And it wasn’t by spending more time with her, or asking her questions. I got to know my Grandmother through her friends–some of whom have known her for over 50 years(!)–people who did not hesitate to share anecdotes that I had never heard before of how my Grandma impacted their lives.
Her friends told me stories about what her young days would have been like, growing up in Guyana in the ’30s and ’40s. About how she came to a far-less-welcoming Canada in the early ’60s as a domestic worker for the White upper class, having to leave her children behind until she was landed (which was part of the rules), and dealing with what all of that entailed– just to give her family all of the opportunities we have today. They spoke of her kindness and generosity, her courage, and her willingness to stand up for others and do what is right, even when it was not popular, during the years that she worked as a cook at the former Wellesley Hospital in downtown Toronto. They talked about her faith in the midst of adversity, and how she has always trusted God to help her, even when her haters (and she has a few) have wished her ill.
I’ve always known what my Grandma has meant to me; but it was through planning this party that I was able to hear the great things that others have to say about her, which I think, is a true testament to how she has lived her life. A life well-lived, which is exactly how I would like to live mine.
So, here’s to 90 years of living well, my parent, teacher, best friend– Grandma!