My childhood was filled with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents in a small, rural community. While all of them left their marks on me, rarely a day goes by that I am not grateful for the presence of my maternal grandmother in my life.
Grandma ran a farm on 115 acres of gorgeous farmland, possibly the most magical place on earth and home to animals from turkeys and chickens to cows, used for milk and meat. While we got handmade quilts, hats, and mittens for Christmas and birthdays, her most precious gift was her time and complete attention.
Sunday afternoons were for long walks through woods and pastures. Early mornings we picked wild strawberries and made preserves to eat on homemade bread. Evenings were filled with card games and Chinese checkers. At her table, I learned the fun was in playing games regardless of the outcome. I learned to identify wildflowers and trees on long walks in her woods and developed an insatiable desire to can and preserve food.
I credit her with my decision to live on a farm despite the sweat, effort, and occasional heartbreak that involves. She gave me confidence that comes with knowing you are unconditionally loved and from being given the freedom to fail along with the realization that failure is okay.
But her greatest lesson was to give love and to find joy every day. All tasks, from weeding the garden to writing a manuscript, are more palatable with laughter and a smile. Caring about those you are with will move the task, and world, in the right direction.
While I’m proud that my own kids can identify sassafras and catch salamanders, I am more grateful for Grandma’s other lessons and hope I’ve passed on to my kids the pleasure of a job well done and the slow reward of a life built around loving others.
Walnut Cove, North Carolina