A Grandmother's Love Never Ends

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Getting older has its advantages.  For one, if we're paying attention, we get wiser.  With wisdom comes appreciation....not just for material things, financial security or career success, but for the things we've acquired in life that money and success can't buy.  Sometimes these things are small and subtle and other times they are huge and profound, and have an impact that is so emotionally charged that we cannot describe it and can barely even explain it.  I experienced one of these gifts this week and feel so blessed that I want to put it on paper so that years from now I will have something concrete that will memorialize this feeling.  I think many of you will relate.

My Mimier and Pipier (Dad's parents)
I grew up as an only child in a very tight-knit family that, as was mostly the case back in the 50's, all lived within a close commute.  I was not only an only child, I was an only grandchild - on both sides of our family.  As you would imagine, I was well loved and pretty special in the eyes of my grandparents.  Since both of my parents worked full time from my birth, my paternal grandmother - Mimier, babysat me.  Mimier lived just a few blocks away from us and only a couple blocks from my parochial elementary school, so I'd also walk to school from her house everyday, back to her home for lunch and back again after school.  Back in the day......that's how it worked.  Kids walked to school and went home for lunch.  Mimier took me everywhere with her - on the city bus to shop downtown Cohoes, Troy or Albany, to her bridge dates with her "lady friends", on senior bus trips.  She took me to fancy stores and bought me things I might not have ordinarily had.  Since my grandfather, Pipier, died when I was only 9, Mimier had plenty of time for me and we were very close.   When I was 13 though, my parents moved from Cohoes to Saratoga Lake.  Mimier didn't drive and although she often visited for the weekend, our relationship changed quite a bit with that move.  At 13, I'm sure I didn't realize just how much that move must have affected her.  As a teenager though, I  was probably more interested in things other than family relationships, so the separation probably had less impact on me.

My maternal grandparents lived about 30 minutes away and we also saw them regularly too.  In the summer my parents and both sets of my grandparents had trailers on the same campsite on Saratoga Lake, so we spent a lot of time together.  Sometimes I'd spend a day or two with them during a school break after Thanksgiving.  They loved to travel and took me on a road trips to Florida, to Hampton Beach, and later to Hawaii.  Those were fun times and cherished memories.

We (me and my grandparents) spent every holiday and birthday together, and most Sundays and I never knew a life without my grandparents in it.  I was fortunate to have my Mimier until she died in 1972 at 76 yrs. of age. She lived long enough to see me graduate high school.  My maternal grandmother lived until I was in my 30's.  She got to enjoy my kids for 9 years.

Mimier & Gram on my Confirmation Day

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I always knew my mission in life, my goal, my passion, was to marry and have children.  I was not career minded, I always had my heart set on being a mom.  So when I was blessed with our first daughter, my life-long dream had come true and I didn't think I could be happier.  That happiness was doubled four years later when our second daughter was born.  I was convinced that I couldn't love anyone more than I loved my girls.....my heart was full.   Then four years ago, I was proven wrong.  With the birth of my granddaughter, Elena, my heart swelled and grew in a way I could have never realized.  I fell in love with this precious new life, this offspring of my very own daughter, a miracle of miracles.  How could I not have known what was in store for me as a grandmother??

Growing up I had the best of the best of grandparents - not just my grandmothers, even my grandfathers.  I was cherished and adored and loved.  Yet, somehow I couldn't understand the depth of their love for me.  When my own kids were born, I knew my parents were madly in love with them.  I watched them dote over them, buy for them, feel pride in them...........still I didn't get it.  I remember my Dad always wanting to see the girls, have them visit, etc....I just took it for granted that he was just enjoying them.  I never comprehended the depth of love he was feeling.  NOW I get it!!!  Now I feel it, now I understand the enormity of the love a grandparent feels for their grandchildren.  It's not like the love we feel for our spouse, or our parents, or our kids ..... it's a love that's different, indescribable, immeasurable from any love we've experienced.  It's consuming and unconditional.  Perhaps the saddest part about it is that we figure it out too late.  I wish I'd understood it when my kids were little so I could have made sure time with their grandparents was more of a priority.  I wish I'd understood it when my Mimier was alive and that I'd written her more (phone calls were "long-distance" then), or spent more time with her when she visited for the weekend.  But naturally by then I was busy with boyfriends and such and didn't think about a time I wouldn't have her in my life. 

We were so very blessed to have been able to babysit our granddaughter, Elena, a few days a week for her first 2 1/2 yrs of life.  We had her overnights and weekends and treasured watching her grow.  When my daughter took a promotion and had to move to Indiana 17 months ago, I thought I would die from the heartbreak.  (That is when I realized how difficult it must have been for my Mimier when we moved to Saratoga Lake - and that was only 30 minutes away!)  Somehow though we have survived Laura's move and this past week we were blessed to welcome our second granddaughter into the family.  Our hearts might surely explode with love.  While we are certainly over the moon with joy and love, we are also a bit sad that our relationship with baby Braelyn and Elena will not be the same as the relationship we were both lucky enough to share with our grandparents.  (Disclaimer:  I was more than a "bit" sad, I was weepy for the first 5 hours of our drive back from Indiana.) (Post Script: my grandchildren moved back to our hometown February 2016 after 3 years in Indy.)

But love doesn't diminish by distance or miles, or time passed or even death.  Just today I received a wonderful gift from my Mimier.  While going through a box of photos looking for something, I came across an envelope with a note card written by my Mimier to me in 1972, about 5 months before she died.  The postage stamp was .08 cents.  Inside the card was a picture of this woman.........

Now a few years ago I made a "family tree" for my living room wall.  This tree includes our family, our parents, our kids, grandparents and some great grandparents.  At the time, I added the picture above - even though I had no idea who this woman was.  I just assumed she must be someone in the family and something in me felt she should be included in the "family tree".    So, in the middle of all of us.....just along the trunk of the tree, sits this mystery woman.   For 2 years when I introduced visitors to the family on my tree, this woman has been nameless - just someone who I assumed was 'some' member of the family.  You can imagine my elation when I turned over this new-found copy of the photo and saw, in Mimier's handwriting, "Agnes Blair, Your Great Grandmother".   Finally I know who this woman is - thanks to my Mimier 42 years after her passing........which was in fact September 6, 1972.  That mystery woman at the center of my family tree all this time is my Great Grandmother!  Thanks to Mimier, I finally know.  A grandmother's love keeps giving............even after her death.

There are few things in life more special than the relationship between a child and their grandparents.  If you are a grandparent, you understand this.  It becomes apparent the moment that first grandchild is born.  No matter how much you anticipate and imagine the gift that awaits you with this new addition, nothing can prepare you for it.  If you are a parent - trust me on this and nurture your childrens' relationship with your parents.  Cherish your grandparents if you still have them and remember that one day they will be but a beautiful memory.  The time to love them and enjoy them is NOW!  I am so thankful I was not only blessed with grandparents who were such an important part of my life, but for the blessing of my grandchildren in my life.  There is no greater gift!
Me and  Elena - 8/28/10
Me & Braelyn - 8/23/14


  1. You were a very fortunate girl, Gail.
    We easily felt the love you experienced as a child, that you felt as an adult with Katie and Laura and now, as the grandmother of Elena and Braelyn. :) Jill


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