A Grandma Without The Glitz

Katie Young
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Wednesday - May 10, 2006
| Del.icio.us

A beauty that is timeless - the author’s grandmother Sue
A beauty that is timeless - the
author’s grandmother Sue

I’ve seen those new-fangled, “hip” grandmas - the ones who spend their days learning to salsa dance, flitting off to Las Vegas for weekends at The Cal’s slot machines, or cruising around the golf course with their fancy sun visors.

I know grandmas who can’t bear to sit around the house all day, who pass their time by packing their days full of fun social activities. Forget the hot tea and bring on the strawberry margaritas. Don’t bother with knitting, hop on an ocean cruise.

Of course, there is another type of grandma, the more traditional sort. My own grandmother (my mom’s mom) falls into that category.

As she has grown older, my Grandma Sue has maintained the quiet wisdom of her past, valuing, above all, respect, gratitude and frugality. She has never been one to say what “should be done.” Instead, she leads by example, faithfully writing thank you notes, being generous with others, but never overspending on herself.


It has only been in recent years that I have truly been able to appreciate all the sacrifice she has made in her lifetime.

As a child, all I cared about were the tasty treats Grandma made and the fact that she’d let me line up every one of my “My Little Ponies” in her bedroom window to watch me as I’d dig up her carefully plotted flower garden.

As a young woman, I appreciated how she adored me - always saying how much she loved me and allowing me to make my own mistakes, while still telling me her personal thoughts on important life matters.

It was only as an adult that I began to ask questions about my grandmother as a girl, a young woman and a mother. It’s funny how we sometimes forget that our parents and grandparents have pasts of their own - that they were young.

My grandmother grew up on a farm in Isleton, California. The family had little money, and being the third oldest child meant she also had the job of baby-sitting her six younger siblings. She lived through the Depression and then lost everything when she and my grandfather, as a recently married Japanese-American couple, were interned in Arkansas during World War II.

But my grandmother just started over again. She didn’t complain, didn’t fuss. She just carried on as best she could and quietly adjusted to every obstacle life threw her way.


For me, my grandmother stands for values of the past that never go out of style. She still likes to cook things from scratch, feeling that something you make yourself, from the beginning, will taste far better than anything that comes from a box.

She also believes in the importance of little courtesies and the “proper” way to do things, like sending hand-written notes, not e-mails, and remembering every friend’s and family member’s birthday with a card.

My grandmother also likes to takes things slowly. She feels that people are too much in a hurry. She feels that the most precious gift you can give someone is your time, whether it’s taking time for a relaxing meal or taking hours to shop for just the right gift.

The other day she told me, “Katie, I feel as though you are my daughter, not just my granddaughter.”

The respect I have for my grandmother runs so deep, I do think of her as more than a grandma. She represents so many wonderful things to me that I never tire of hearing her advice or listening to her stories about life.

Maybe it’s because of everything she has been through, maybe it’s because of how she was raised, but my grandmother has never been what you’d call “hip.” But she’s beautiful - in every sense of the word - and she’s timeless.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who call themselves “Mom.”

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