I was fortunate to spend many waking hours – most weekends and many afternoons and evenings with my grandmothers. This picture of 4 generations — my grandmother, my daughter who turned 1 that day, me, and my mom — popped up in my Memories yesterday. I remember that day well, celebrating my daughter’s birthday with friends and family, and it didn’t seem particularly special to me at the time that there were 4 generations together that day. It seemed simply normal. My mother requested the photo. I’m so grateful she thought of that!
Last night, I walked out on my deck to view an incredible moon rise. And the memories came flooding back. My grandmother, Grammy, gave me the moon when I was very young, probably 2 or 3 years old. She told me it was hers to give. Of course I believed her, and I was ecstatic to see “my” beautiful moon in the night sky for many years. At some point I understood that the moon wasn’t actually mine, but I have always been thankful that she crafted that story for me. I lost that grandmother when I was almost 30. But today, 20+ years later, I still think of her when I look at the moon – pretty much every day.
The gift of stories
Grammy told the most wonderful stories. We drove to her home in little Washington, NC, on many Fridays for the weekend until I was around 15. She would smoke – with the windows rolled up – and I would complain. She was stubborn, though. She refused to believe that smoking was dangerous – for her or for me in the backseat cloud that stunk and burned my eyes and made it hard for me to breathe. She could always make me stop pouting by telling me stories as she drank her “Co-cola” out of a glass bottle and smoked cigarettes for the 2-hour drive.
Around the same time I received the gift of the moon, my Grammy also gave me what she called a magical blue stone. It was beautiful. I’ve kept it on my bedside table for years because it always reminded me of the fantastic stories she told of how she came to own the treasure. She had such a vivid imagination, and she could pull off an entire story, unrehearsed and off the top of her head, with flourish. Tell me how you got the blue stone, Grammy, I would say every time we were in her car. She would smile and tell me all about her adventures finding the stone on “my” moon or in a faraway castle or under the ocean or in caves filled with jewels. In one story, it rained blue stones and she was lucky enough to catch one. I love my magical blue stone. Once I realized it was really blue glass, I didn’t care because she never did tell me where it came from. I loved her sense of mystery.
Grammy was very proper. I loved going to her house and sitting at her dressing table, playing dress up with her makeup and fancy hairpieces and jewelry or swimming in her great swimming pool of a bathtub or stealing sugar cubes from her crystal sugar bowl with the dainty sterling tongs. She gave me gifts for for princesses, such as the moon and the blue stone, but she also taught me valuable life lessons – other equally important treasures. Here are some of my favorites:
- Never pay a cent in interest; if you can’t afford it right now, then wait.
- Balance your checkbook to the penny every month.
- When passing the salt and pepper, set them down on the table.
- Don’t chew gum because it’s not ladylike.
- Everyone needs beautiful calling cards with their names engraved in fancy script.
- Send handwritten thank you notes.
My grandmother’s legacy
I fell in love with writing a long time ago. I’m certain that my grandmother’s great imagination and fabulous stories told in her dramatic, adventurous, and often mysterious way encouraged my attraction to words and stories. I miss her. I’m forever grateful to her for the time she spent with me and the gifts she left with me.
What are some of the treasures you received from your grandparents? I’d love to hear your stories! Perhaps I’ll compile them in a book about the very best gifts. Email me at hanna@writewellservices with your stories!
Pictures courtesy of Hanna Schoenrock
Hanna Schoenrock moved to Denver, NC, in 2010 to be near Lake Norman with her husband Jason and three kids. Her two boys are in school at Appalachian State University, and her daughter lives in Raleigh and works in marketing. A former high school English teacher for 13 years, Hanna founded WriteWell Services in 2014. She does social media strategy for business owners, she writes and edits website content, marketing material, articles, bios, and blogs, and seasonally she does college application essay coaching for high school seniors. She is excited to have recently joined the LKNConnect team as managing editor.
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