December 5, 2008
The Wisdom of Grannies
I can remember the smell of dentures and detested the color of gray hair when I was a little girl. One of my family members smelled like moth balls and I thought that all old people smelled that way. I would whisper to my Mom, “Oh gross, I don’t want to sit in her lap because she smells old.” Speaking of old, my parents used to leave me with this old lady/babysitter across the street and she would always give me candy, which was nice but I didn’t like staying there because she would only watch the news or something I thought was boring like a game show. She just wasn’t very much fun at all for a five year old. After all, she was a whopping 50 years old.
As I got older and became a teenager I thought I was too cool to hang out with “old people.” My parents even seemed old to me and they were only in their 30’s. Imagine me being seen with them, especially when my dad drove the camouflage jeep that he hunted in to pick me up from school. I would jump in the front seat humiliated and bend over, pretending to tie my shoes until we pulled out of the parking lot so that my friends wouldn’t see me. I always wanted my brother to pick me up because he was young and cool.
I also thought that I knew it all and I could outsmart the “old people.” My parents would ask me questions and I would make up a ridiculous story, thinking I had pulled one over on them. They would smile and ask, “Really?” All along they knew the truth and were letting me think I had outsmarted them. My friends and I would laugh at them and talk about how dumb our parents were because we thought we were so much smarter than all of them. They would always try to give us advice but we thought they were just being old and didn’t understand.
If someone bought me clothes and they weren’t cool, I called them “Granny clothes” and wouldn’t wear them. These were clothes that anyone other than a teenager would wear, like granny pants that came up above the waist, granny panties that covered your butt, or granny shoes that just looked old. I actually still say that on occasion.
The next chapter in my life was turning 16 and getting a driver’s license. Boy was I cool and fast. It always seemed like I was getting behind some old person out for a Sunday drive. I would get behind them everywhere I went; through the drive thru at a fast food restaurant (which gave new meaning to fast food), going down the highway where you couldn’t pass or in town when the light has just started to turn yellow and they would stop. This would drive me insane. I would honk my horn and say things like, “Why do they let old people drive” and “Get out of the road and go home Granny!”
I definitely didn’t have respect for older people however, the older I get the more I am learning to appreciate and believe “old people” are invaluable. They can teach you things that a young person can’t. The wisdom they have is something that you can’t learn by going to school. It’s not found in a book or in a class.
Older people have wisdom because they have lived through many experiences and can share wonderful stories with us if we will just take the time to stop and listen. I believe they are the best story tellers, better than any book that I have read. The stories they have told me have taught me about life and how to make a good decision without going through a tough time. I now know that life would be easier if I would always listen to the “Grannies.”
Old is also getting older to me now because 30 certainly isn’t ancient any longer. I actually have friends that are in their 30’s. Wow, how time makes you see things differently. The same people I thought were old have a different effect on me now in how I view and respect them. For instance, I now love to travel with my dad and feel proud when he picks me up at my dorm to take me out to dinner.
The memories I am starting to have about the old lady I stayed with across the street are now becoming sweet memories that make me feel warm inside, like it feels after drinking hot chocolate. I remember the smell of chocolate chip cookies that we baked together and how she always would let me eat some of the cookie dough. Another special memory of her is a feeling of warmth when she would hug me and tell me how happy she was to see her special little girl. I believe that she influenced me by her wisdom without me even knowing that she was teaching me. She taught me about genuine unconditional love.
Finally, when I start a family I want to model respect of older people such as grandparents, parents, and elderly people for my kids. I also want to instill in them love and the value Grannies will add to their lives if they will only take time to get to know them. I want my kids to have a good relationship with their grandparents and benefit from the knowledge and wisdom they will have to offer. The warm memories they will make baking cookies, shopping together, and snuggling up on the couch to watch a documentary together will be priceless.
My only hope is that when I am 60 years old, stopping at the yellow light, that some smart mouth, blonde haired, teenage girl, doesn’t get behind me in her little red sports car, honk the horn and call me, “Granny!”
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