Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Favorite Octogenarian

Do you see this beautiful woman with the twinkle in her eye?
She gave birth to and raised 8 children - one of those being my own mother. 
That beautiful woman, is my sweet Granny Shanks.
 As a young girl, I sat next to my granny in church and looked up at her with a twisted face at her tone deaf singing and asked, "Are you trying to sing the alto line?!" Back then, I didn't appreciate the fact that her gentle off-key singing to her children each night before bedtime was what sparked the love of music in my mother - and ultimately a lifetime of loving music in myself.
As a little girl, I would brazenly ask my granny, "Why are your hands so soft? And why do you have so many wrinkles in your face?" She would just laugh and let the words roll off her back and onto mine in the form of a loving back scratch and a shared fresh pear.
This is the same granny who I have often painstakingly struggled with over the phone for hours at a time, with the vain attempt to teach her some basic skills in internet and computer use. (Let's just say CAPTCHAs are not her forte. . .) Though despite her lack of internet expertise, she still manages to retain the position as my number one blog fan. Her only regular critique comes to me as a question of why I do not post more often.
On days when I'm feeling particularly troubled from the adjustment to new motherhood, my granny reminds me of how she ironed all the laundry for her large family every Tuesday for hours on end. She hated it, but she did it still the same. I've even been the beneficiary of her first rate ironing skills when she has visited in years past, on Sunday mornings before church. "See? Whenever you feel sorry for yourself, you just think of your little old granny ironing and you won't feel so bad." It actually does help quite a bit. I know from our talks that what is expected of me (and even what I expect of myself) with regards to housework pales in comparison to what was expected of her, and what she accomplished day in and day out without praise for her exceptionally large family.
This is same beautiful woman who after one workout under the direction of a personal trainer left the trainer baffled, "People half your age cannot do what you are doing today!" The same woman who responded to my question of, "What would you do if someone was trying to steal your purse from you, granny?!" responded calmly, "I'd kick 'em in the groin!" The same woman who tells me when I feel bothered by less-than-positive comments on my blog, "If you really want to do this blog thing, then you're going to need to toughen up!" This is the same woman who supported, loved, worried and cared for my grandpa up until his dying day - even with the added struggle of his dementia and Alzheimer's.
She isn't afraid to speak the truth, or to be herself, to live her life serving others, or even to die. Her poise, contentedness no matter her situation, and testimony of her Savior are a constant reminder to me of who I hope to become: a woman more like her.

You know, on a frequent basis I take the liberty of informing my gran that, "It's me! Your favorite grand-daughter calling!" She always lovingly responds, "Yes! You are one of my favorite granddaughters!" I know I'm not the only one who pulls the "favorite" grand-daughter trick, because she has confused me with more than a handful of my other cousins/sister when I call and refuse to give her my name - only the title! This speaks to me of the great love she shares with all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (Lincoln being #16). We all feel like her favorite. 

Whether you ever get around to admitting I'm your favorite, I have a little something to tell you Granny - YOU are MY favorite Octogenarian!! :) Happy 80th Birthday Granny!!! You are beautiful and I love you. Now I'm going to tie up this happy birthday post with a little video from Julian Smith. Granny - I feel the same way about you as Julian does about his gran - You are awesome!

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