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What Makes My Gramma So Special

By Shannon Miller, Granddaughter

celebrating national grandparents day with my grandma
To celebrate National Grandparents Day, I want to share my “Gramma” with you as I reflect on her influence in my life.
I am so happy that my grandmother moved to Florida in 2014 for the last few years of her life.  She is 98.  She and I are here together weathering Hermine. Grandma’s first Hurricane.  
My grandmother was an amazing influence on me during my childhood, insisting on my learning names of flowers, trees and birds.  I am now a bird nerd to be sure.  She took me on a trip across the country when I was 11 in a camper with my grandfather and a friend– it was fantastic.  We looked over the edge of the grand canyon, toured mesa verde and saw the 4 corner of 4 states and wrestled a possum and a raccoon to save the day (ok, we had a broom).  
Each summer, I would travel to visit her in Wrightwood, California.  My grandmother and I spent countless hours collecting antique bottles after we would hike to the dump seeing quail and coyote and road runners along the way, and sewing various quilt squares. We often visited snow caves in the summer which was so crazy to me. We also explored lots of lakes and took fabulous hikes.  Wow. the sierras are amazing, although I do think I may have gotten motion sickness at a few points in our journeys. We cooked together and fed the hummingbirds with regularity.  Ours was a summer visit each year, taking in the joys of nature.  
My entire family climbed a famous mountain, one year, called Mt. Baldy.  It was a very difficult hike, but my grandmother led the pack and when we got to the top, she told me how proud she was of me.  Now, my father and grandfather did a nighttime commute to Wrightwood from the top of that mountain, but hearing those words from gramma was a huge compliment.  
My grandmother had always been sharp as a tack.  She would remember the names of every plant, bird and even snakes.  She remembered my friends’ names and kept up with politics.
To love my grandma in recent years… you have to realize she has loved to complain about something since relocating to Florida. So flat, hot.  I would get so stressed about it and try to fix things for her, but the reality is, she just wants attention, like all of us do. And now, she no longer complains, and… I miss it.  Yes, she is “happily demented” and I am glad she isn’t stressed about her dementia, which used to be very difficult for her because she had insight into her deficits.  Now, she doesn’t know.  I still love and value her each day. 
 I share my story about Grandma to be sure as family and caregivers, we feel validated for continuing to support our aging loved ones, even if they don’t know us or value us.  And even if they complain.  We know them and love them, and if they could, they would be giving each of us a big hug and saying thank you for caring for me and valuing me.
Grandparents are a rich resource for us and our children.  They make up a significant part of our family culture that is passed on for generations.  Love them, cherish them, care for them.

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