The greatest gift she has ever given me is time.
Our grandma turned 92 years young on Monday. That morning, I was trying to come up with the perfect gift to take her when I got off work that day to celebrate her birthday. What do you buy a perfectly content woman who has everything she needs? A woman whose faith in God is strong, a woman with one of the kindest hearts I know….a woman who wants for nothing.
I began thinking back, trying to remember a single gift that she had given to me. The woman who always hosted every holiday, who had three amazing children and their spouses, along with eight beautiful grandchildren. There wasn’t a Christmas or birthday that I can remember that didn’t involve a gift from her…but sadly, I couldn’t remember one of them. However, I did remember what was most important to me.
I smiled as my mind began to wander back in time, and all the sweet memories flooded in.
I remembered playing Old Maid as I sat in front of her ottoman and she smiled at me from her rocking chair. I remembered all the episodes of Golden Girls that we would watch and laugh out loud. I remembered how her car was always the most immaculate car I had ever seen, and how for some weird reason, I always loved the sound of her blinker. I remembered the way her hair smelled, exactly the way it smelled, when she would snuggle us in her chair. I remembered Salisbury steak, and how I always thought it was the greatest thing on earth when she paired it with my favorite, cream corn. I remembered how soft her hands felt when she would hold mine. I remembered how perfect her bed was always made, and how safe I felt when I would crawl in next to her. I remembered the begonias, and how beautiful they always were. I remembered my favorite part of going to grandma’s house… breakfast in the morning, just us, drinking orange juice out of the plastic cup with a strawberry on the front and talking about whatever was going on in the world at the time. I remembered picking strawberries out of the patch in her yard, and her letting us eat them all up before we even got into the house. I remembered the candy dish that always sat on the coffee table…we could take as many as we wanted. I remembered the cardinals that we would watch from the dining room table as they perched on the deck. I remembered the piano that sat in the basement with the hymnals in the bench, and how she would play the most beautiful songs as I would set mesmerized, wishing I had the talent to do that.
I’m 37 years old now. The last time I spent the night with my grandma was probably twenty-three years ago, but the memories I have with her are so vivid…. it’s just like it was yesterday.
I remember her love. Her unconditional love, for all of us. I don’t remember the details around any materialistic gift that she ever gave me, but I remember her time, and the reasons that I love her so very much. With that, I decided, that what I wanted to give to her for her birthday what she had given me.
I arrived with flowers, my favorite plastic cup, a small jug of orange juice, a pack of strawberries, and a bag of Dove chocolates. We sat for two hours, drank our orange juice, and talked about all the items in the bag…how I remembered all of them, and how important the memories were to me.
And together, we joyfully shared time.
In this day and age, we all want to give our children and grandchildren the latest and greatest toy, the newest fad item, the multiple things on their “want” list…. Monday, I realized….in twenty-three years, they are not going to remember how exited they were when they opened the gift, played with it for ten minutes, and then filed it in the archives of all the other forgotten toys. No, when they look back, twenty-three years from now…they will remember the time. The smallest details of the most precious gift that can ever be given….time.
Happy Birthday, Grandma. You are so beautiful to me.