Wednesday, October 15, 2008

spt -- #14 of 100

I had to postpone this one because I didn't have time yesterday to do it justice.

#7 of my 100 list: My grandmother Charlotte is my hero.

I studied this photo of her when she was a girl. She looks just as spunky and charismatic and fun and adorable as she is now at the age of 82. (and, boy, I can see the resemblance with my darling cousin Ashley!)

I wrote this post about her 2 1/2 years ago. I went back and read it tonight and now I can hardly type for the tears streaming down my face.

What can I add?

-- She taught me that whatever you do, it only has to be okay with you and with the Savior. Who cares what anyone else thinks? Even if they are close to you and disapprove of you at times, ultimately that does not matter if you have met the above criteria.

-- She taught me that Relief Society is important. She told me once that she received her education from Relief Society. She had very little formal education, but she is a highly refined, educated woman, so this gave me an entirely new respect and admiration for Relief Society.

-- She taught me many, many things about cooking, and she continues to commiserate with me about fallen cakes, gives me pointers, and passes along great new recipes.

-- She taught me that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of your hair, as long as you like it. (now if only it was easier for me to like it!)

-- She taught me that you can be happy, even when your circumstances do not seem very conducive to happiness. The first point above is crucial, but it goes beyond that. Even though she has macular degeneration and her eyesight is failing her progressively, she still finds ways to cook, iron, keep house, entertain, and be enviably cute all the while. She can't enjoy reading anymore, so she listens to audiobooks, and we still advise each other on our current favorites.

-- She taught me to embrace my love of words and not to censor my self for fear that others would look at me askance or not fully comprehend what I was talking about.

-- She taught me that wigs can indeed be cute. Stylish, even. (Though she would not approve of my posting this photo because she was wearing her "cooking wig" in it -- the one that got singed when she was pulling something out of the oven.)


-- She taught me that, if you can just hold on for about 40 years or so, being married is undeniably worth it. Sometimes that makes me laugh. And sometimes it makes me want to cry.

-- She taught me that if you are heavier than you'd like, you'll always look and feel better if you get clothes that actually fit, even if you cringe over buying a larger size.

-- We were talking about divorce the other day. Her parents are divorced, and she told me the following: "Honey, I often hear people talk about how they don't want to stay together just for their children. Well, I'll tell you, that's a damn good reason to stay together!" When she tells me things like this, I feel like I am stopped in my tracks. I make a mental note of it, and when I refer to it later, I can hear her voice in my mind.

-- She taught me that mothers are more concerned with behavior, and grandmothers are more concerned with feelings. (So that's why grandmothers are so wonderful!)

-- She taught me that when you find yourself in a place you'd rather not be (as when she was in a rehabilitation center after her knee replacement this year), you can choose to be a sunbeam for Jesus. I don't mind telling you, that song has never been anything more to me than a catchy tune, but hearing her say that, even in my mind, brings a catch in my throat.

-- She taught me about true reciprocity.

-- She taught me that our similarities are far more important than our differences. (She loves instrumental jazz.)

-- She taught me that a woman can be independent and still loving. She calls herself "gritty" because she is strong and knows she can weather all things with the Lord's help. I aspire to being just as gritty.

-- She taught me that aging gracefully is a beautiful thing.

-- She taught me that unconditional love is not only possible, but it's also pretty much the only thing that makes life worthwhile.

-- She taught me that a woman has unimaginable powers of influence.

I'm sure there's more, but honestly, I keep getting more and more choked up as I'm trying to type here, so I'm going to stop. To be continued, as Grandma often says at the end of our phone conversations...

I love you, Grandma. Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen. My hero.

p.s. Lest you think she is perfect, I will say that I freely forgive her for her unwitting introduction of chubby knees and arthritis into my gene pool...

19 comments:

Kim Sue said...

that's beautiful Michelle

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I don't know which is more profound, your grandmother or you. You learned powerful lessons from her (maybe even at her chubby knees :) and amazingly you recognized those lessons and articulated them so well that now I feel like I've learned from you.

What a post. Thank you.

April said...

This was a touching, teaching post and I think you are soo, soo, soo lucky to have such a grandmother. My favorite bits of wisdom were number one and also the one about marriage. I could read this every day I think.

MaryRC said...

okay i am totally bawling like a baby, you made me miss my grandmother. cherish her with every moment you can. time can be fleeting. beautiful post and pictures.

melanie said...

What a grandma!! I love this post, you wrote it perfectly. I love the advice on marriage too. A great aunt has given me the same advice and my reaction is similar to yours.

Jill said...

She is an amazing woman and I'm so thankful that I've gotten to spend time with her. Your family is so blessed to have a matriarch like her. It's hard for me to even imagine having such personal conversations with my grandmother and receiving such wise advice from her. Perhaps you and your grandma should write a book for those of us who don't have that blessing!!

emily said...

I can't read this post too carefully right now because I don't want to start crying in my office. This is beautiful, just like Grandma. I'm so grateful to have learned so much from her, and your post reminds me of all that I still can learn. Thanks! I'm going to have to come back to this later tonight!

emily said...

Sorry that I accidentally posted twice. Oops!

Erin said...

-- She taught me that, if you can just hold on for about 40 years or so, being married is undeniably worth it. Sometimes that makes me laugh. And sometimes it makes me want to cry.

I love this. I feel laughter and tears at the thought of this also...but I love it that it came out of your grandma's mouth. Wise woman.

rmt said...

That was beautiful. Truly. I always love to hear about your grandmother.

wende said...

this was a beautiful post - i'm so glad this was number 14 on your list and i could learn about this wonderful lady. it makes me feel inspired to be that kind of awesome mother/grandmother when i grow up!

i especially love the cooking wig - and more importantly, how it got it's name. and how grandmothers are more worried about feelings. my mom always says, "when they're little they're on your hands and when they're older they're on your heart".

i also love the perspective on the sunbeam song. i have been working with spencer lately (our very own eyore in the family - always with a black cloud over his head) on how to be happy, how to choose happiness even when you don't feel happy. i am definitely using this as an example. it's perfect, thank you for sharing!

beautiful post michelle! we all need charlotte jane hunter petersens in our lives!

Lucy said...

Thanks, Michelle. I actually really needed a few of those bits of wisdom today.

Kelly said...

I agree with Jill about the book. This was touching and lovely. No wonder she's your hero!

Susan said...

You have become a woman much like my darling Mother, Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen.

Thank you for such tender thoughts. Tears are a good way to start the makeup removal and the tender feelings at bedtime make me happy. She is a most remarkable woman and teaches me new things almost weekly.

Ditto on the knees!

Denise said...

Wow, Michelle! You have really summed up so much about my mother that I love and cherish. I wanted to post something on her birthday but (blogging fear realized) the time came and went and I think I felt sort of overwhelmed by how to possibly sum up my love and admiration for her. You did it. Wow. Thanks.

Sometimes I marvel that I'm related to her!

Denise said...

Oh, and one more thing: Jessie is the one who will not like you posting that photo. She always said that Grandma shouldn't get a wig because it would look like a wig, Grandma would get it on crooked, and she wouldn't know it looked bad. Rest assured, Jessie--I made her throw this one away the last time she got a new one. No need to even cook in that one!

charlotte said...

This is an amazing post, Michelle. I love our grandmother :)

lelly said...

this is so beautiful. i am inspired to take some time and record some thoughts about my relatives this way.

Claudissima said...

oh my ....it makes me want to go and spend thanksgiving with her...I grew up with no grandmas, really...my mum's mom died when she was 39 and my dads when she was 80, but we only got to see her probably 3 or 4 times and she did not talk much...at ALL....so thank you for these wise wise words....I am touched in so many levels, by what she has taught you, that I am teary eyed to been a benefactor of this post...I love wigs too, wished I had more...i was actually thinking of dressing as marilyn monroe...we were at a custom shop today and i have the big voluptious figure, and a white platinum wig might be my medicine...and red lipstick...ohhhhhhh but I am having a hard time with the waist this time, I had it more visual before the kids....hmmmmmmmmm and the boobs, at least they are there, i shoulld use them for something.....go figure, wanting to be part of my kids halloween.......we will see.....

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