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.

– – –

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

– – –

c.b.w. 2012


43 thoughts on “Things My Grandma Taught Me

  1. I love the pictures and I love the way you are honoring your grandmother’s life journey. Thank you for sharing pieces of her with us. I feel like I know her. Your love for her is shining through.


    • 😀 What a wonderful memory! I forgot about that – she showed us how to do that with those little yellow snapdragons that always grow along the side of the road. I still squeeze the “mouth” open whenever I see a snapdragon.


      • Tammy

        What about the crystals in the window? When the sun comes through the window just right, you have your own light show! Grandma liked to put her hands in the rainbows and see how pretty it looked on her skin. Or, give them a liitle flick and watch Pal chase them! Lol…she loved those rainbows:)


  2. I am looking even more forward to your posts over the next few days, C.B. When grief comes to get you, let it flow and here’s a tip – breath in through your nose until your belly is a puffed up balloon. Then push the breath out through your open mouth taking twice as long to breath out as in. AND the bonus … let your grief sound come out with it! This is not about not grieving, it’s about complete grieving because the body gets to join the mind that holds the memories and the heart that carries the emotions.


  3. I’m sorry for your loss! Lovely post, I truly enjoyed reading it. I think your idea about writing whatever you feel is a great one! During tough times in my life I used to write … not in a blog, like nowadays, but just putting my thoughts down on paper felt good for me. Would probably have been good to blog about it too, if I’d been totally anonymous. I’ve never had the joy of having a grandparent since they were gone when I was born.


    • I’m surprised how much its helping to put my memories in such a public place, but I love the idea that other people have a chance to get to know her. She was an incredible person and I hope my memories of her will make people smile. That in itself brings me a lot of comfort.


  4. And how you grieve this week or this month or this year may, and will, change as time flows onward. Grief will have its way, but if you can let it happen as it will, the healing you long for will come. Your Grandma was wise in the ways of the world that matter (especially about snapping turtles) and you are the living shoot from that rootstock. Your heart knows what to do. Keep writing!


    • Some are profound, while others are rather lighthearted (like playing cards). Grandma was an interesting person and always had a lot to say. I’m sure I’ll still be learning from her for years to come just from the memories alone. 🙂


  5. It is these beautiful memories of your time with your grandmother that will weave into the fabric of who you are. She will always be a part of you – and now you see that she can always be a part of your writing, too. It’s a wonderful heirloom.


  6. Lovely photos and wonderful memories. Talking (or writing or scrap-booking) about loved ones who have passed on is very cathartic. Remembering the good times, the advice and sharing their love helps keep them close to your heart. 🙂


  7. Renee (fancynewsammy ;-) )

    Hi, C.B. – I am so sorry about your loss. I love the list. The things your grandma passed on to you will bring you much comfort and many warm memories!


    • I’m doing the same thing. Music was a really important thing to my Grandma, so we listened to things like Mozart and Kathleen Battle when I was a kid. I have all of those albums on my iPod and I’m making a playlist of all those musical memories. 🙂


  8. This is such a beautiful and powerful post, CB. It’s so full of love, wisdom, memory, and the wonderful simple pleasures of nature. I’m sorry for you loss (she sounded like a spectacular woman!) and I’m sending you so many comforting thoughts as you move through the waves of grief (you’re right, there’s absolutely no right or wrong way to move through it) xo.


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