80 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Grandma

My maternal Grandmother turned 80 years old yesterday. I’d always imagined a big birthday celebration to honor her life, but due to social distancing and COVID-19 we weren’t able to celebrate her the way she deserves. Instead, I took some time (we seem to have a lot of that these days) to reflect on all things she’s taught me through the years.

My Grandmother lived with us growing up. In many ways, she was more than a grandmother. She was the one in the kitchen making family dinner every night. She was the one waiting for us in the carpool lane after school and the one who made sure I practiced piano everyday.

Maybe helping raise my sister and I kept her young. Or maybe I was just afraid of losing her. But I always told her she wasn’t allowed to call herself old until she turned 80. That was the rule. Now that she’s reached that milestone, I realize that the number 80 doesn’t just represent her “old” age. It represents her legacy. She has spent the last 80 years living lessons, and I’ve spent my lifetime learning them.

In honor of her 80th birthday, I’d like to share 80 lessons I’ve learned from my grandmother. Maybe you’ll learn something too!

80 Lessons I’ve Learned from My Grandmother

  1. Always take time to smell the roses. Some smell better than others.
  2. Notice the butterflies. Each one adds a little beauty to your day.
  3. Always be ready to sing “You are My Sunshine” whenever and wherever you are.
  4. Remember to keep hard candy and a tissue in your purse at all times. Even if it’s crumpled, you’ll be glad you have it.
  5. Keep your car clean.Your car can still smell like its brand new even if it’s ten years old.
My Grandmother (left) and me (right) in our twenties
  1. There is a place for everything in the kitchen.
  2. In fact, there is a place for everything. So put things back where they belong.
  3. If you put something in the wrong place, she will know you were there.
  4. Dinner is the same time every day. 5:30 p.m. in case you were wondering.
  5. You can be called a lot of things, but don’t be called late for dinner.
  6. Never lose a bay leaf, or it will cut you!
  7. You can never use too much garlic.
  8. Perfect a few recipes and make them your own.
  9. Make chocolate chip cookies one of those recipes, and you’ll be everyone’s favorite person when you make a batch.
  10. Grandma’s meatloaf should be a staple of every American diet.
  11. Salami and butter on a saltine cracker is a surprisingly good combination.
  12. Farm cookin is the best cookin. Homemade fried chicken. Need I say more?
  13. No need to be fancy. If the food is good enough, you can serve it straight out of the pan.
  1. But if you’re going to be fancy, then serving tea out of a fancy china set somehow makes it taste better.
  2. Soup is always better the second day.
  3. Chew with your mouth closed, or you’ll never find a man.
  4. There is more than one use for a wooden spoon.
  5. Eat fruit everyday. Slice it. Savor it. And add chocolate sauce when necessary
  1. Always be silly enough to take out your dentures for your grandkids when they ask.
  2. Sneeze loudly. Realllllly loudly.
  3. Always say please and thank you. You’re never too old to be polite.
  4. Papaya fixes an upset stomach and a sweet tooth.
  5. The Dollar Store has the best deals.
  6. Catalogs shopping is underrated. There are some really cute clothes in there!
  7. Gift Boxes are better than gift bags.
  8. Even if you tell someone “you aren’t doing Christmas Presents this year”, still buy them a Christmas present. They will be happy. It’s a fact.
  9. Knitting is a useful skill. Washrags make great presents and your grand daughters will love their homemade doll blankets.
  10. Fast typing will get you the job.
  11. Who needs autocorrect? Just practice your spelling words!
  12. Practice! Practice! Practice! Never stop playing the piano, or you’ll be sorry you lost it.
  13. You can and should have a favorite commercial. It makes commercial breaks so much more enjoyable.
  14. Take the backroads. It might take longer, but that’s okay. You don’t need to be in a hurry anyway.
  15. Three wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights does make a left (turn).
  16. Every knick-knack has a story. If it doesn’t, make one up or throw it away.
  17. Use your library card and always check out more than one book at a time to make the trip worth it.
  18. Have good penmanship. Cursive handwriting is a lost art that needs to be revived.
  19. A handwritten letter is worth 1000 text messages.
  20. You can never own too many socks.
  21. Stores were so much cooler back when they were called Piggly Wiggly and The Fruit Basket.
  22. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a love/hate relationship with your cat.
  23. Always tell your loved ones if something looks good or bad. Be honest. Brutally honest.
  24. Always pencil in your eyebrows. Grandma did it before it was cool, and now it’s in all the make-up tutorials.
  25. All you need is a little pink lipstick, and you instantly look put together.
  26. Invest in good shoes and leather purses.
  27. Be content with just a few pieces of nice jewelry, especially if those pieces have sentimental value.
  28. If you have running water there is no excuse for greasy hair.
  29. Find a good hand lotion, and use it often.
  30. Nothing beats the smell of lavender.
  1. Laugh at yourself, and you’ll live a long and happy life.
  2. Don’t stand on spinning chairs or you might fall and break your nunu. Also… the word nunu (noggin).
  3. Adrenaline is a powerful thing – powerful enough to lift an entire bunk bed frame when your grandkid is pinned behind it.
  4. Travel while you’re young, and the memories will last forever.
  5. Pay attention to who’s who. You never know when you might be serving coffee to a criminal. It makes your life story that much more interesting when you cross paths with a presidential assassinator.
  1. Women are strong. Stubborn women are even stronger.
  2. Admit when you’re wrong. Make peace with yourself and others.
  3. Never play the victim. Take ownership over your life choices.
  4. Don’t put your trust in material things. Put your trust in the right people.
  5. No one owes you anything. Don’t go through life acting entitled.
  6. Work hard for your money. Three jobs if you have to.
  7. Do it even when you don’t feel like it.
  8. Believe in others. See their potential and help them succeed.
  9. You can help a lot with just a little.
  10. Visit the people who are important to you. Visit often.
  11. You can indeed have eyes – hawkeyes – in the back of your head. It’s a fact.
  12. Your sister can and should be your BFF.
  13. Friends are forever. Even gradeschool friends.
  14. You can be a mother to more than your own children.
  15. Family is always unconventional. It includes the neighbor down the street. Your child’s best friend. Sometimes your grandma is more like a third parent and sometimes your cousin is more like a brother. It’s not about the title. It’s about the time you invest.
  16. Fight for those you love.
  17. Speak highly of your children.
  18. Always keep the faith. Even when life is hard.
  19. Billy Graham is still the best preacher America has ever seen, and if you were one of the lucky ones able to see him preach in person, your life would never be the same.
  20. It’s easy to be negative. But when you have the faith, you have every reason to be positive.
  21. God gives purpose and meaning to everything in this life. It’s never too late to start living for Him.
  22. You’re not old until you’re 80.

With love,


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