Things My Grandma Taught Me


Something I’ve learned over the last couple of days is that there is no right way to grieve. I’ll cry, but it doesn’t feel right because I don’t think my Grandma wants me to be sad. I’ve never been very comfortable with talking to people face to face about anything this personal, so that outlet is also off the table. At the same time, I want to heal and I want to celebrate all the wonderful things about my Grandma.

Then, I realized that I should use the only outlet that’s ever worked for me: Writing. Within a day of her passing, I posted a poem and wrote a small note about how I was feeling. That small act brought me immense comfort (as did the comments that followed), so I’ve decided to let my creativity serve as my way to grieve. Words have always been my savior and using them to heal is fitting seeing as my Grandma was also a writer.

Over the next few days, I’m going to let my memory run wild and record little things my Grandma said along with some of the wonderful things she taught me over the years. As her memorial service approaches, I am certain my sorrow will deepen, but so will the joy of loving her.

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I spent many happy summers with my grandparents in Northern Wisconsin. Amid the thick forests and beautiful lakes, I learned how to find contentment in the simplest things, while also opening my eyes to the awe of nature.

Near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

Near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

Both of my grandparents instilled a love of the Northwoods, but Grandma taught me a few specific things I will never forget:

  • Don’t forget to listen to the birds sing.
  • How to pick the best blueberries and blackberries, (my short story Blueberry Hunt was inspired by these memories).
  • “Clumping” for daisies. (When you find wild daisies growing along the side of the road, it’s possible to dig them up and plant them in your yard if you get enough of the roots)
  • Pansies have faces that smile if you know how to look at them.
  • Don’t run on a wet pier.
  • Snapping turtles don’t let go if they bite.
  • Always take your jewelry off when you go swimming. There was a tree by the lake that had a perfect branch for hanging rings. One year, I left a ring on that branch and it stayed there for an entire winter. By the next summer, it was still there!
  • That weird bellowing sound from the shore is a bullfrog.
  • Don’t forget to look at the stars and make a wish.
  • It’s okay to get your hands dirty – dig in the mud, play with toads, and roll in the leaves!
  • Always check for ticks after taking a walk in the woods, (and check the dog, too).
  • Don’t go swimming when there’s lightening.
  • If you’re going to have a house in the woods, don’t cut down all the trees so you can put in a lawn of grass.  Let the trees be your landscaping.
  • It’s really fun if you shout something while jumping off the pier.
  • You can never have too many pictures of sunsets.
Little Gibson Lake, Near Boulder Junction Wisconsin. It's one of my Grandma's favorite places. Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

Little Gibson Lake, Near Boulder Junction Wisconsin. It’s one of my Grandma’s favorite places.
Photo by: c.b.w. 2005

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c.b.w. 2012