Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Not long ago I caught up with my cousin Patti by phone, an overdue catch-up. We talked for over an hour, and somewhere in the conversation I said, “I know I’m sensitive.” I’m not even sure why I said it or what we were talking about.

A day or two later, she texted me. “Love talking to you. Grandma felt that she was too sensitive. Think about that. She was loved unconditionally by all because she allowed herself to be sensitive, she understood. Be kind to you. Love you, Dear Crystal.”

And so I have been thinking about that. I didn’t realize this about my grandma. In my own fifty plus years, I have come to see my sensitivity as a strength, even if it’s sometimes painful.

April 30 is Grandma’s birthday. She would’ve been 103. Hard to believe she’s been gone for thirty years and funny how I feel closer to her now than ever before. When I talk to my cousins, I feel her presence, like glue, holding her family together. Of her five children, only one remains. I’m quite sure Grandma prayed for her grandchildren to carry on the importance of family—and loving each other unconditionally.  

I grew up in small town Oklahoma, a five-hour drive from where my parents grew up and my grandparents remained. Our visits were limited to weekends mostly. My family would spend Friday night with Granny and Gramps and part of Saturday, then Saturday night with Grandma and Grandpa. On Sunday after church, my grandparents’ house would fill with my aunts and uncles and cousins and buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then Mom and Dad, my sister and brother would hop back in the car and drive the five hours home. I didn’t have much one-on-one time with my grandma, not like my cousins who lived nearby, and so I treasure my connections with those who really knew her. And the words Grandma left behind. Golden, priceless, handwritten words about being raised by her grandmother. And these about her birthday:

“There is no doubt that Grandma spoiled her “stubborn-as-a-mule” granddaughter. She would make a party of my birthday—a three-layer cake on my third birthday, four-layer cake on the fourth, five-layer cake on my fifth and that was the year Grandpa died. We would go, with the birthday cake, egg salad sandwiches with fresh lettuce out of the garden, and find the picnic spot, a natural rock table with rock chairs set just right where the best party I ever attended would be. We had such good times.”

Catherine Savage

My grandmother never had a mean thing to say. Her laugh twinkled like the brightest stars. She was the epitome of good. And today I believe she’s celebrating on high with her grandma, my grandpa and my mom, Aunt Carol, Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Joed, my much too young cousin Logan, a cake stacked 103 layers tall, and the best party ever. Love You, all of you, and Happy Birthday, Grandma!

A classy lady, my grandmother.

52 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Grandma!

  1. I enjoyed reading this very much, Crystal. As a card carrying sensitive person, I must confess I’ve struggle to see it as a strength. However, your story reminds me that sensitivity can be like glue—for families, friends, and the world in general. Happy Birthday to your grandmother! My own grandmother would be 110 this December 12.
    God Bless!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David. Sadly, men aren’t encouraged to embrace their sensitivity. I’m not sure women are either. I’ve just decided it’s a part of me, and so I’ll embrace. It’s part of my self-grace. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is charming, what a lovely way to remember your grandmother. I love learning about blogger’s family history. I never knew my grandmothers. One was said to be kindness personified, the other the exact opposite.

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      1. Funny, or probably more appropriately ironic, how we come to appreciate our ancestors and to really think about what we may have “inherited” from them, for good or ill. In this case, happily, yours was clearly for good, thanks to your cousin who knew your Granny better than you did.

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  3. It is always good catching up with long lost relatives and asking how they recall things. Quite often, there are many differences to our preconception. Your granny sounds like a wonderful human being. Happy Friday Crystal. Allan

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  4. Happy Birthday to your Grandma – she sounds like a lovely lady. My husband’s birthday is on 30 April – he is a sensitive soul, too. My Nana is always in my thoughts and she would be 126 this year!

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  5. Being sensitive as a strength, I don’t think we initially look at it that way but I agree that it helps us to connect to people in a Wonderful way.
    Happy Birthday to your grandmother. She sounds special and the relationship you had was I guess special too. I lost my grandma almost a decade ago. She was so full of love and laughs.

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    1. Thank you, Manu. I’ve definitely been hard on myself throughout my life for being too sensitive. Elaine Aron’s book—The Highly Sensitive Person (how to thrive when the world overwhelms you)—changed my perspective. Still, I’m working on self grace.

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  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. Grandma occupies a special place in your heart and will be with you always… no doubt you were at her birthday party also!… 🙂

    A Letter From Heaven

    When tomorrow starts without me
    And I’m not here to see,
    If the sun should rise and find your eyes
    Filled with tears for me.

    I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
    The way you did today,
    While thinking of the many things
    We didn’t get to say.

    I know how much you love me
    As much as I love you,
    And each time you think of me
    I know you’ll miss me too.

    When tomorrow starts without me
    Don’t think we’re far apart,
    For every time you think of me
    I’m right there in your heart.
    (Alena Hakala Meadows)

    Until we meet again..
    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    May green be the grass you walk on
    May blue be the skies above you
    May pure be the joys that surround you
    May true be the hearts that love you.
    (Irish Saying)

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  7. Quite a beautiful tribute, Crystal. Your grandmother’s still around, of course. Both in the Eternal sense, and in the here-and-now, as her loving legacy still thrives.

    You mentioned the glue of family yearning, still sticky after all these decades. That’s your grandmother’s gift to the family, and it will be yours too. No doubt, sixty years hence, you’ll inspire similar affection and nostalgia.

    Your description matches so closely my own grandmother’s who would’ve been 100 this summer. Except, instead of layer cakes, her specialty was apple pies. The best.

    Why is it everyone’s grandmother was a wonderful baker/cook? Those memories alone secure their Eternities.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That sounds like the best weekends. Nothing like family and your grandmother sounds like she was aa wonderful lady.
    Being sensitive was always looked at like a bad thing but it shows your a warm person. I too am EXTREMELY sensitive!

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  9. Hi. New here. Found this post from a search about grandmas. I like that she would’ve been 103. My great aunt in Iowa turns 103 next Tuesday. This was a really nice read, thank you.

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      1. She’s definitely given me “I want to live to such and such age” goals. She’s doing great. Has an apartment at assisted living, is active, still goes shopping, writes letters, etc. Halfway there is a great age! Plus, it means we’d both have 50+ years left. 🙂 🙂

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