I am not sure how old my Grandma Lucy is, and neither does she. We all think she’s in her mid 80’s but if you ask her, she’ll tell you one answer one day, and then another answer another day. I also am not sure of her birthday. My Mom calls me every year to remind me to wish my Grandma Happy Birthday on a certain day, but always adds that we’re really not sure if that’s her birthday so make sure I call her the next day also.
As a child, I remember my Grandma as a little Italian lady with a size 5 shoe, who had a fantastic laugh. She hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. She’s still a tiny Italian lady with the smallest feet I’ve ever seen and a laugh that can still make you forget everything else going on in the world.
I saw her this past weekend at a wedding and spent my usual time catching up with her. She’s always so excited to see me and is never short on things to tell me about and advice that she thinks I need to follow. For some reason I never seem to forget all the things that she has told me as a kid. It made me think about a few tips that I have carried with me since I was a kid. I felt the need to share these with everyone so here they are.
Grandma Lucy’s Tips on Life
- Don’t wear your glasses all the time because it will make your vision worse. I got glasses when I was in 6th grade because I was nearsighted. I couldn’t see far away so I had to start wearing them in school. It was hard getting glasses at that age and most people were supportive and said, ‘you look great!..blah..blah’. But Grandma Lucy would constantly tell me to take my glasses off. She convinced me that if I wore them all the time it would make my vision worse and then I’d have to always wear my glasses. I would tell her that I couldn’t see without them and she’d say, ‘sure you can, just use them when you need to see far away’. I obviously didn’t listen to her and am now have to wear them every day. She’s in her mid 80’s and doesn’t wear glasses to see. So I either think that I was a fool not to listen to her or that she really can’t see but rather have blurry vision then be caught in glasses.
- Cod liver oil gel caps make a great face cream. When I was a kid my Mom used to make me take Cod Liver Oil vitamins that were in a form of gel caps. I know she made me take these because Grandma Lucy made her take them when she was a kid. I am still not sure what the point of these pills were but I know they smelled awful. I remember one day when Grandma Lucy was in my kitchen she asked my Mom for some cod liver oil vitamins and she broke the gel cap open and applied the oil to her face. I stared at her like, ‘EWWWWW?’. She then proceeded to put some on my face and then my Mom joined in and we were having a cod liver oil skin party. At the time, I wasn’t convinced that these vitamins were necessary to smear on my face, but if you look at Grandma Lucy’s skin now, you’d be clearing the shelves of cod liver oil at your local vitamin store.
- It’s okay to wear your shirt backwards. Grandma Lucy always wore very relaxed clothes and seemed very comfortable in her own skin. You never commented on anything that she wore because even though it may have seemed odd, she was very confident about everything she did so there was never a need to question any of her decisions. One time I saw that she was wearing her shirt backwards. There was no mistake about it. I saw the tag indentation in the back of her shirt and that it was on the wrong way. I asked her, ‘Grandma, did you know your shirt was backwards?’ and she replies, ‘Yeah, I know’. Enough said..never mentioned the backward shirt again.
- Eat fresh food, everything else is JUNK. Grandma Lucy is a great cook. I remember going to her house as a kid and she would just whip something up for me. Even now I see her over the stove at my parents house or cutting something on the cutting board. She could throw together a full course meal with whatever she had in her fridge and pantry. She would make sure that we always ate good and that we never ate ‘JUNK’. ‘Everyone eats so much JUNK’, she’d say. ‘Don’t feed your kids, JUNK’, she’d tell me and ‘You know what’s wrong with everyone today? They all eat so much JUNK!’ I realized that to her, JUNK, was defined as anything with more than 2 ingredients in it. If you had to buy food out of a can, it better just be in there for storing purposes and have no other JUNK in there. If I had a snack on me, she’d snatch the package out of my hand and say, ‘What’s this JUNK?’ and she’d start reading the 500 ingredients off the package label…then she’d throw it out. I make sure that every time she see’s my kids that she knows that I don’t feed them JUNK and I think she’s proud of me since she always says, ‘Jenny, you better not be feeding these kids JUNK!’
- Don’t wait to have kids until you’re financially stable…cause you’ll never be. As soon as I got married, she hounded me about having kids. As soon as I had my first daughter she hounded me about when I was going to have a second kid. I tried to explain to her that we were waiting until we were more financially stable to have more kids. She looked at me like I was crazy and firmly instructed me that this was ridiculous because I would be waiting forever. She said, ‘You’ll never be financially stable enough to have kids so just have them when you’re young.’ We waited 5 years in between our two kids…and she was right. We were in no better place financially 5 years later.
- She has Crazy Person radar. You can always tell when Grandma Lucy thinks someone else is crazy because her eyes will get REAL big when you’re talking with these people. She’ll do it when they aren’t looking, like you’re in some secret club and only you can see the reaction on her face. We’ll all be standing in a group of people talking about something not so important and she’ll look at me and give me these BIG WIDE eyes like, ‘run away, this person is crazy’. She’d then quickly compose herself when they would turn around and talk to her and she’d would continue on with the conversation…then would reach for my hand as if to guard me from the crazy person and make sure they don’t snatch me away. It is hard to have conversations with her when people are around because she always seems to have the ‘crazy person radar’ on and it’s hard to keep a straight face when she gets a vibe and goes into alert mode.
I grew up with my Grandma in my every day life and now live about 3 hours away from her. When I saw her this weekend it was at a wedding and she looked beautiful in skirt suit and dazzling jewelry. You would never guess that behind that beautiful suit she had a life of struggle growing up as single Mom. You’d never know that she was in an almost fatal car accident a few years back which resulted in a tracheostomy (she still has a small tube that helps her breathe). I don’t think we’ll ever really know ALL of Grandma Lucy’s struggles since I have never heard her complain a day in her life.
Every time she see’s me her face lights up and she smiles at me like I am her favorite person in the world. I don’t see anything past her smile and all her memories that she’s given me. I’m glad that I have such a clear vision of all our time together and all the things that she has done and taught me. I look forward to all the tips that she’ll give my children and all the laughs that we still have left together.
What are your most vivid memories of your grandparents? What tips did they give you that may have seemed crazy as a kid but as an adult make perfect sense?