Things I've LearnedThings I Am Learning From My Grandma Part 6Nicole Shabtai

Last Tuesday, I woke up at 6:30 am to walk Sheldon, my dog. He’s a wonderful poodle-mix that we rescued about a month ago. To my great surprise, Sheldon had left a bunch of little presents next to my bed. He is housebroken, so I picked up my phone to call the vet (I am super neurotic). Then I was greeted with another surprise: a missed call from “Grandma Cell”.  I immediately got nervous (see parenthetical above).  She had left a message, “Hi Nicole. It’s Grandma. Please call me. I want to tell you a love story.” Excited and intrigued, I cleaned up Sheldon’s poop piles and then sat down to call my Grandma.

“Even though I can’t see you face to face, I think this will make you happy,” Grandma tells me. My heart is already bursting and I haven’t even heard the story yet. I grab a pen and paper. “A handsome young man wanted to take out a beautiful girl named Katie. My Aunt Katie.” As you may recall from Part 2, my Grandma’s Aunt Katie was a star of the Yiddish Theatre in New York. “They made plans for a date and he went to her house to pick her up. A 16-year-old girl answered the door. He knew instantly that he wanted to marry her. That 16-year-old girl was my mother.”

Can we just take a moment to say, YIKES! How terrible would you feel if you were Aunt Katie?! A guy comes to pick you up for a date and not only falls in love with your 16-year-old sister but also wants to marry her! Rough. My Grandma continues, “My mother and father got married soon after. It was right.” For all of you jailbait gals out there, I just want to make clear that this was like 1912. Maybe don’t get married in high school. Also, use protection. “They used to say that every time my father took off his pants, my mother got pregnant.” Saucy. My Grandma is the youngest of seven and a twin, no less. I laugh as she continues, “They had a real love affair. My mother was a wonderful, beautiful woman. And he told her so every day.”

My Grandma takes a deep breath, “It was The Great Depression and we were very poor and there were a lot of us. My mother made room for everyone. There was always dinner on the table for us and for whoever else needed it.” I hear my Grandma tremble slightly. Her voice changes, “Even when my mother was 40 years old with seven children, my father still told her she was beautiful every day. He adored her.”  That year, my Great Grandmother died. My Grandma was only seven years old.

My Great Grandfather was devastated and he never fully recovered. Grandma says, “He didn’t want to be with anyone else. My father was still so handsome. He had salt and pepper hair.” She starts to cry. I start to cry. Then, “He wanted us to grow up as a family. We took care of each other.” The elder siblings helped to raise my Grandma and Dottie, her twin. “That’s a love story. I wanted to call you and tell you that I came from a family with love.”

LESSON: Tell your truth. Share yourself with others, even if its hard. They will thank you for it.

This is the first time I have ever heard this story. I knew certain facts within but it was never told to me in this way. “Things were hard, but we had love.” Tears are streaming down my face. I’m very emotional. Then she says, “I came from love.” I am floored by this. Grandma has just expressed a universal truth. We all “come from love.” Even if on the surface this doesn’t ring true to you, you’re misunderstanding. It’s innate. When you share something deeply meaningful to you, that’s precisely where you are coming from and its always been there.

I am so incredibly grateful for this phone call and I know that I will remember it for the rest of my life. Just goes to show, some mornings you wake up staring at a pile of sh*t, but in an instant, it can all turn around.

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  1. OH this just made me tear up! Beautiful story, keep ‘em coming!

  2. O my god! I love your grandma and this series! It has though me more than any my own grandmothers..

  3. Beautiful article Nicole. Love it so much. I love gramma’s.

  4. That is so beautifully put. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. Means a lot to me!

  5. These stories make me so happy because they remind me of my own grandmother, who died when I was 16 (I’m 31). My nana was a real dame and it sounds like your grandmother was too. I too come from love and have never forgotten it. Thank you.

  6. I had a conversation like this with my grandmother not too long ago, too. She told me about when she met my grandfather (She was dating his brother and decided to date my grandfather instead, haha! Opposite of your story!). She also talked about growing up during the depression with 5 siblings on a farm in Mississippi. I loved hearing her talk about it.. I feel like I know her so much better.

    • Wow. We’re both so lucky we had the opportunity to hear from our Grandmas. I think its so important to know where you come from. Thanks for reading and sharing that with me!

  7. i love your grandma! She’s an extraordinay human being…

  8. So, so touching. I may have shed a tear or two. <3

  9. I love this. It was the first thing I read this morning and it put me in the best possible mood. I’m really really enjoying your stories. :)

  10. I love your stories about your grandmother she seems like such a beautiful person! By the end I always end up with tears in my eyes and missing my own grandma who passed last November. I wish more then anything I had her around still. Your very lucky to have her and her stories and wonderful advice around. :)

  11. I’m really enjoying this series – well done. What a beautiful story.