Two weeks ago, my parents visited us for my mom’s 70th birthday. It was a special celebration as we hadn’t spent time with them in over six months, and 70 is a pretty big deal!
May is an important month in our family because we have so many birthdays: my mother’s, my daughter’s, and my birthday all land in the month of May. And giving gifts has always been a special, celebrated part of our tradition. My mom, in particular, is known for her highly thoughtful gifts. She’s an artist and often paints beautiful, expressive paintings in honor of special occasions.
But today the gift was different – and even more special. As my mom was organizing the gift bags on the countertop, she reached into her purse and pulled out a small book – a Grandma Book. While my daughter was in the other room, she said to me, “This book is very special. I took the time to share my story – but I’m not going to do this again.” I said to her, “Oh, wow…”
She continued, “It takes a lot of effort and time to put the words onto the page. But you gave me this book several years ago, and this year I decided to fill it out.”
I asked her what exactly is in the book? She told me, “The truth. This isn’t a sugarcoated version of my life. Throughout this book, I’ve written the real story, my story, because it’s important to me that Ava understands it.”
We set the Grandma Book aside and moved on to our typical birthday festivities. I purchased tiaras for us, and of course, gave my mom the biggest one. We laughed and joked as we opened our gifts. When Ava opened the gift of the book, she looked at it closely but decided not to read it yet– but rather to put it away and save it for a time when she was ready.
A Grandma Book – a way to share the truth about your story
I sometimes think about the importance of sharing the truth and our story. How else will we learn if the wisdom and stories aren’t passed down to the next generation and the one after that? I feel like sometimes we shelter the younger generations too much. They don’t understand the real struggles of the generations before. I’m not sure why the pendulum has swung this far, but it has. We shield our kids – and maybe that’s because we, ourselves, sometimes don’t want to look too closely at the past.
Still, our younger generation needs to know that where we are right now was hard-earned by the generations before us. We all have a story to share. My mom’s story has some pretty difficult chapters – yet you would never know that when meeting her. She’s one of the happiest people I know. But that happiness came from a willingness to do hard work – processing, understanding, and eventually rewriting the story to the one she joyfully lives today.
Hopefully, one day when my daughter sits down to read this book, she will understand not only more about my mother – but also about her mother and the women that came before her. Hopefully, this will help her to understand more about me and about herself. We’re all part of a continuum. We unknowingly pass belief systems down from one generation to the next. We inherit fears, strength, and wisdom. And the more we understand our inheritance, the better off we’ll be. There is so much richness in the details.
I’m so glad my mom took the time to write it all down. Next up – one day it will be my turn.
You can order the Grandma Book shown above here.