Life Lessons From Grampy & Grammy

17 Dec

Dear Grampy & Grammy,

Thank you for always being the two coolest people that I have ever known. Since coming out of the womb I have been your little princess & now, 23 years later, I still am. I cannot describe how thankful that I am to have you two. You are both such wise & kind souls. You were like a second set of parents. Ones who would let me sleepover & read me books then make me the best pancakes in the morning. I am forever grateful. So let me explain some of the life lesson wisdom you have taught your oldest (& only) granddaughter. Using your own words.

Image(Above: Me & my Grandparents, Thanksgiving 2008)

1. Grampyism: “100 years from now we won’t know the difference” 

Translation: Don’t sweat the small stuff; don’t place high importance on things that don’t matter

Life is stressful. School, work, money, family, the list goes on & on. But Grampy, is somehow immune to this. Not because he’s never experienced trying times, but because he’s learned how to overcome them. By being positive & hopeful that life will go on. & It always does. I can remember crying about friends in middle school, crying about boys in college & crying about money a few months ago in Prague. & Grampy’s words of wisdom was always this line. It’s very hard to think of overcoming obstacles when they seem so massive. When they dominate your every thought. But I have lived 23 years with seeing my Grampy whistle while he shovels out in blizzards & laugh in traffic jams…although he does get a little riled up during a Red Sox or Patriots game…he always faces stressful situations with a smile. Because you’re going to get through it. That is, if you only keep moving forward. 

Image(Above: Grampy wasn’t really understanding our instructions at the Louvre Pyramids hahaha)

2. Grammyism: “Sometimes you have to suffer to be beautiful”

Translation: Fashion can be painful, it’s not easy to be beautiful but it’s worth it

My Grammy is one of the most stylish people I know. Even today. I can remember endless matching pant suits all throughout the ’90s, all gold jewelry & a ton of her favorite gem: emeralds. Grammy is fierce. She always has been. When I was growing up, while Mama G was fun to shop with, she was no shopaholic. She goes into one store & constantly asks: Will you reallyyyy wear that? Not my Grammy. Grammy & I are the same. We shut the mall down. Literally believing in the phrase ‘shop until you drop’. But now Grammy’s in a wheelchair so she can go even longer. She taught me the importance of good quality. This is important both with clothing & life. If you invest in something of good quality then you will always get your money’s worth. While studying abroad I learned this is the core of Parisian fashion. Nowadays if my grandparents aren’t at Barnes & Noble, Longhorn Steakhouse or the movies then they are most definitely at Macy’s because Grammy is stocking up on her Chanel makeup & Origins face cream while Grampy yells it’s $200 for a tiny little sample. Grammy will never let herself go no matter how old she gets & this is the epitome of style.

Image(Above: That shiny thing covered in tinsel, jingle bells & holly is Grammy’s cane)

3. Grampyism: “If someone else can do it, so can I!”

Translation: You are just as capable as anyone else; or a Mama G quote: “Life’s for living!”

When Grampy says this phrase he is not talking about something semi-challenging like driving a stick shift or learning to salsa. He is talking about jumping off 30 foot cliffs into the ocean, eating ghost peppers or water skiing. He’s fearless. Nicknaming himself ‘a recycled teenager’ Grampy has always loved a good adrenaline rush, which in exchange gives my always-worrisome Grammy & Mom a heart-attack. This bit of Grampy wisdom, although could be taken to extremes, has also been a personal mantra for me during my time in Prague. I am out of my comfort zone so many times here, but I always think to myself that others have been in my shoes before & they turned out just fine. 

It just isn’t summer until my Grampy does this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW2mzYNt-yU

Image(Above: My ‘recycled teenager’ eating his dinner of choice)

4. Grammyism: “Men need to be trained”

Translation: Males do not understand female games, be direct & blunt

My grandparents have been married for 54 years. They got married when Grammy was about 23 & Grampy was about 22. Their marriage has faced wars, peace protests, freedom movements & a whole lot of bad ’80s hair. & They are still more in love than ever. However, they did not always start that way. Grammy told me that her & Grampy were fixed up by mutual friends. They went on a double date & she wasn’t really into him. Later he tried to kiss her & she refused. He drew a square on the car windshield, signaling that she was being a prude. To this my Grammy stood up, go out of the car & said “You’re lucky you even met me!” & slammed the door.

This story is hilarious. Because somehow they still got married & it was just meant to be. Grampy is now one of the best husbands & fathers I know, but Grammy maintains that she had a lot to do with this. No one is born the perfect partner, they need to be shaped & molded. While I do believe Grampy was born a very kind soul, I also believe it was Grammy’s strict parenting & tough love that made my Mom & Uncle Ronny into the two equally kind & loving adults that they are today. 

My Grandparents were always in love, but their love has grown deeper since 2001. Since this year my Grammy has almost died of a brain aneurysm, fallen & broken her hip & had a stroke. & Grampy never left her side. As a result of all these medical mishaps, Grammy now either needs a wheelchair or cane to get around since she’s paralyzed on the left side. Grampy is now with her almost 24 hours or, as he ends every e-mail “Gotta go, Grammy’s calling, back to servitude”. But all jokes aside, since almost losing each other, my Grandparents’ love is stronger than ever. They still hold hands, sneak kisses & constantly tell each other how much they care. They are the real life Noah & Allie 🙂 They never gave up & always worked through the things life threw at them. That is true love.

Image(Above: My Grandparents, two of the most patriotic people I know, at this year’s 4th of July Parade)

5. Grampyism: “Your money is no good here”

Translation: Put that wallet away, I got this!

Living only 10 minutes away, it was a rarity to go a single day without seeing or talking to either of my Grandparents. Mostly because Grammy calls us on average 8 times a day 🙂 But even when I got older, every single time I looked down at my phone & saw they were calling I smiled. They were calling to see what I was up to & if I wanted to meet them up at the movies/restaurants/mall to take me out. Sometimes I was with friends. So without missing a beat they would invite them too. Plus I cannot even tell you how many how many of the ex-boys in my life enjoyed a hearty meal thanks to my Grampy’s kindness.

They took us on some of the best vacations. Disney, Bermuda & Mom had the best birthday gift last year in a trip to Paris to come visit me studying abroad. My Grandparent’s generosity is overwhelming & never-ending. Even in hard financial times–that was actually when they gave more. Grampy gives to every charity, tips every service worker, organizes all the food drives at the church & helps anyone in need. He mows lawns, rakes & shovels for elderly neighbors & is my Dad’s handyman sidekick. He would give the shirt off his back for someone if they asked. Or even if they didn’t Grampy probably still would. 

Growing up we were not a rich family, & we still certainly aren’t. But it was nice to be taught that money doesn’t matter–it’s the memories that do. Because money is materialistic, it will come & it will go, but memories with good friends & family are priceless. They always last forever.

Image(Above: Grammy & I before my senior prom)

6. Both Grandparents: “Education is the most important thing, it is something no one can ever take away from you.”

All my life I have been so fortunate to go to some of the best schools. A huge part of this was Grampy & Grammy. They grew up in a time when not many went to college, but Grampy still did. He went to Clark University & studied Psychology & tells me crazy stories of his time working with patients in mental institutions. He is such an intelligent person. I can remember playing games like Mahjong & Memory when I was younger & always watching Jeopardy together. Education was always important. So much that I would not get praised for B’s & would be terrified to bring home a C, because they knew I was capable of A’s. 

School soon became my strong suit & my work became that of a perfectionist. I would come home, sit right down & start homework. Without even taking off my school uniform or eating dinner. Until it was done. Then when it was, Grampy would check it. & I can remember crying out of frustration when answers were incorrect & he would make me do it again. Although this was circa 2nd-4th grade, I still credit this to all future study habits. I have never procrastinated. I complete the assignment right away & never wait until the last minute. & That’s all thanks to Grampy.

Grampy & Grammy have since supported all future courses of study. Every time I wanted to learn something new, try a new experience they have always supported me 100%. They know that knowledge truly is powerful. I just hope I continue to make them proud.

Image(Above: My quest for education lead me to studying abroad in the City of Lights, mostly thanks to Grampy)

Yesterday I was lucky enough to Skype call Grammy & Grampy. It was only for like 5 minutes because I didn’t want to eat through Gillian’s credit, but it was just enough. Grampy answered & couldn’t believe it was me, immediately in the background I hear Grammy yelling & wheeling herself over to the other phone. I miss you both so much. I cannot wait to hug you again. Know that I think about you all the time & talk about you to everyone I meet. Grampy, our e-mails are the best part of my whole day. Thank you for all that you have done for me & continue to do for me. I am forever grateful. 

I know that you both religiously read this blog. So I wanted to write this post just for you. I know that you will have tears in your eyes, but a smile on your face. I am safe, I am happy. But I am still your little princess, no matter where I go or how old I get.

I am so lucky to have a Grampy & Grammy like you 🙂

I love you,

Jessi

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4 Responses to “Life Lessons From Grampy & Grammy”

  1. ronald stacy December 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    You will always be my princess. Remember when you used to say to me, “Grampy” you have 5 grandchildren but I am the only girl. So I guess That makes me your princess. I would say, “you are my princess and always will be. Love and miss you Grampy.

    • jgravesss December 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

      love you and miss you too grampy ❤

  2. Katy Kraemer December 17, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    Jessi!!!
    Wow I’m touched! What a beautiful tribute to Grammy and Grampy! Your pictures and comments are spot on showing the love and support you have shared. They have always loved you unconditionally with open arms. You have made them so proud and I know that your bond remains strong no matter how far you travel. You are and will always be their little princess!
    P.S. Grammy continues to shop at Macy’s and Grampy is still 74 year old teenager!
    Love you!!
    Aunt Katy

    • jgravesss December 17, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

      love you too cousin kay. you know what great people they both truly are

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