My grandmother and grandfather have kept a small group of extremely close friends, which she has found to be very rewarding as a social support group. The hardest part of getting older that my grandmother has found is seeing many of their close friends leave for the “great social circle in the sky” as she put it, but she found that working hard at keeping those who were important to her close to her was incredibly rewarding. The close friendships she maintained were the best support she ever found throughout her life.
Friends that she kept close had many of the same values she did, or values she admired and aspired to obtain.
Social support has also come from her family, a value that she obtained at an early age living with so many close relatives. Her entire family, two children, son and daughter-in laws and grandchildren all keep very close ties and provide frequent visits, phone calls, and e-mails to make sure that she is doing well.
Although she a world-renowned writer and one would think her pride would lie mostly with her career, it is a true showcase of my grandmother’s character that out of everything in life she is proudest of her children.
She is especially proud of her son (my father) Joseph who is an incredible parent to his two children. Being a parent has been an unparalleled and most rewarding experience, and she takes great pride in her children and grandchildren as well. Secondly, she is most proud of her wonderful 56-year relationship with my grandfather and the strength of their marriage.
Taking a back seat to family and friendship, my grandmother is also very proud of the National Book Award that she won in 2000 for her book Homeless Bird. The award was an “exciting validation” of a continuing career in children’s literature.
The most prominent aspect of my grandmother’s life has been her faith. Beginning when she was young, she was impressed and influenced by her father’s faith and hope throughout the Great Depression. All of her decision-making has been guided by the hand of God, and she feels that her faith really formed her. She believes that choices we make and the path we chose are all part of God’s plan for us, mistakes and lessons are learned and we are so often blessed with that which we might not deserve to help us see his guiding hand.
Her great faith has helped her realize the incredible benefits of aging; the on-going quest and acquiring of knowledge is a truly spiritual and nearly inconceivable process. As one grows older they gain massive quantities of life experience to draw on and become more cognizant of their faults, often utilizing the “looking glass self” which allows others to reveal their failings to them. Aging, my grandmother has found, ultimately leads to a greater sense of identity and self.
My grandmother is truly the picture of generativity. Her concern for the next generation is very apparent in her writing as she tries to preserve historical evidence and present it to children through her fictional writing. She is obviously aware of the many ways in which she has been blessed and very sensitive to the wants and needs of her husband who now genuinely needs her support. She has reached old age and faces death with a sense of integrity; her faith has lead her through a satisfying and meaningful life.
Although she realizes that she is reaching the end, she is celebrating the many gifts life has presented her with and is satisfied with what she has been able to offer to others. The respect that I have for my grandmother is continually increasing, I do not know if I will ever be able to put into words how much of an idol she has served as for me in how I have shaped and the courses I have chosen in life. She has taught me the importance of a strong sense of self, how to value close friendships. She has shown me the wonderful support system and overall warmth family brings to one’s life.
Her amazing faith, which guided her through hardships and times of joy, showed me the importance of self-transcendence and the relationship I would someday like to build with God. Her steadfast and strong relationship with my grandfather has re-emphasized the importance of finding a true life partner and developing a relationship where conflict can be overcome. In her telling me about the social development and self-discovery she achieved in college I realize the importance of maximizing my college career and truly finding what I am passionate about as early in my life as I can.
My father is a wonderful parent and I see how having children and watching them raise their own children can become the most rewarding experience in a person’s life. I have inherited my passion for writing from my grandmother and I hope that someday I will be as skilled at using words to paint a picture is she is. The chapters of my grandmother’s life have enlightened me greatly, as a quote from Anton Chekhov suggests her writing inspires me to do the same, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. “