Lessons From My Grandmother

My Nannie and Granddaddy, when they got engaged.

The more years that I add to my life, the more I realize the wisdom of my grandparents. I was blessed with wonderful grandparents that were of the generation that worked hard, loved quietly, stayed steady, and complained little. I was young, self-absorbed, and took them for granted. But I loved them, nevertheless, and I pray that they knew that.

As hard days seem never-ending and compounding lately in our country and our world, I have particularly been thinking about my maternal grandmother, who we all called Nannie. She was born in 1902, into a big family. She faced many early hardships and losses. Family losses, major moves, the Great Depression, both World Wars.

But through it all, she kept going. She worked hard. She loved her family. She didn’t quit.

I am remembering, and I will try to do the same. Here are some random memories and lessons I have been thinking of:

  1. Hard work helps to overcome anxieties. Nannie must have had anxieties, but she worked. Hard. Cooking, canning, sewing, mending, babysitting grandchildren. And when she sat, she kept her mind busy with constant crossword puzzles.
  2. Saving things for a rainy day is a good idea. Having gone through the depression and WWII, Nannie knew about economic challenges and shortages. She saved foil and plastic bags. She would wash them carefully, dry them, and fold to use again. She reused gift wrap and bows. She had reusable glass jars and wooden pegs and rope. We used to laugh about all the things Nannie had in her basement, but now I understand. She was ready for anything. She did not waste and randomly buy new things. She was careful with the family money.
  3. Music helps to calm and buoy the soul. Nannie loved music, especially the tunes of her Irish grandmother. She would hum them frequently, and loved watching The Lawrence Welk Show and Joe Feeney.
  4. Loving your husband, your children, and your grandchildren is a noble and wonderful thing. Nannie and Granddaddy met each other in 6th grade, and loved each other almost immediately. He loved her smile. They didn’t get married until she was twenty-five for various reasons, but they had a solid, steady relationship. The biggest smile I ever saw on Nannie’s face was one particular Christmas, when he held her hand, and she smiled at him. They were usually so busy, that I had never seen that before. But it deeply affected my child’s heart. Nannie showed her love to her children and grandchildren by cooking amazing foods, sewing them clothes, mending, being there always.
  5. Church and her faith in God were her bedrock. Nannie loved her church, her church family, her God. She always talked to us about it, and was a faithful member all her life. She is now a citizen of Heaven, and I so look forward to seeing her again. As the days continue, I am more and more thankful for my church family. They are there for us, supporting and praying. This will become more and more vital as these days become very challenging.

I could write on and on with many more lessons from my grandmother. I’m sure many of you also have wonderful memories and lessons from your grandparents. I would dearly love to hear any of them that you would care to share.

Love and blessings to you, Lisa

If Stones Could Talk

Fahan Beehive huts, outside of Dingle, Ireland, 2001. These huts were built in the 12th or 13th century.

If stones could talk, I bet they’d say

Just sit and listen to our day

The things we’ve seen, the people here

Could make you laugh and cry and cheer

History comes, history goes

But we have stood and never show

The stress, the rain, the wind, the woes

Because we are stones that time froze

We always will support each other

And be here for you to soon discover

c2021 Lisa Lyons

Certain

“I am certain in my heart that all that I am, I have received from God.” ~ Saint Patrick

Round tower and one of many celtic crosses at Clonmacnoise. The River Shannon in the background. Clonmacnoise was a monastery established in 548 AD by St. Ciaran. Photograph – Ed Lyons, 2015.

God Through History

Site of Drumcliffe Monastery, established by St. Colmcille (Columba) . Ben Bulben in background, County Sligo, Ireland

Alone with none but thee, my God,

I journey on my way;

What need I fear, when Thou art near,

O King of night and day?

More safe am I within Thy hand,

Than if a host did ’round me stand

This is a hymn attributed to St. Colmcille, a Christian missionary, monk, saint from the sixth century in Ireland. He produced beautifully illuminated scripture manuscripts, established many monasteries in Ireland, and showed the love of Christ to others through his lifelong service.

After some years however, an event occurred which changed the entire direction of his life. The Battle of the Book, a fight resulting from a legal battle over an illuminated manuscript he was accused of copying from another, took place in the valley near the Drumcliffe Monastery. Many died, and Colmcille felt horrible. The weight of sin, the effects of greed and human pride, weighed heavily upon him. He left Ireland and eventually sailed to establish a very influential monastery, Iona, off the coast of Scotland. He used this heartache and remorse to let God use him in a new and mighty way for the rest of his life. Mistakes didn’t mean the end for him. After repentance and prayer, God redirected him and continued to use him.

History has a way of calming me. Somehow, by reading the lives of others who have gone before me, the struggles and challenges they faced, the faith they showed through difficult times, lets me know that nothing is new under the sun. Hard times come, hard times go, but Jesus Christ remains constant and faithful to be with us through all of these times.

Call upon the Name of the Lord. He is the only answer for what you face, what I face. He will answer.

Love, Lisa

Strength from the Past

I have been quiet.  It happens when I don’t know quite what to say.  I don’t want to just add to the vast plethora of information and feelings that we are all trying to discern and sift through.  So, I haven’t wanted to write.

But today, I was walking past the photographs we have in our living room of our grandparents.  It hit me that they all went through the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 and also reeling with the end of WWI.  I don’t know the details of what happened to each of them during this time, as they never talked of it.  And I never asked, being wrapped up in the self-focus of youth.  I wish I could talk to them now about it.

I cannot tell you how this has heartened me.  The same God who strengthened them will strengthen us.  It will be hard, it is hard, but we will make it through this time eventually.  Strength from the past.  Hope for the future.  Trust in our God.

Love, Lisa

nannie and granddaddy

My maternal grandparents, engaged in the mid 1920’s

Emily Files Wedding

My husband’s maternal grandparents, married in the mid 1920’s.

Eva Swenson 1919 or 1920

My paternal grandmother, about 5 years old in 1919.