One of the oldest and most precious memories I have from childhood is my grandmother’s sweet singing as she did chores throughout the house.
The sound sticks with me and recalls more fond memories with my Gran: Her humming Tim McGraw while shampooing my hair in the bathtub or when she’d softly croon my grandpa’s favorite Frank Sinatra song in the kitchen while whipping up some fried chicken. My grandmother’s voice is one part of her that will remain with me for as long as I live. It’s one of the many reasons why I love her with all my heart.
My grandma grew up on very little. Her mother worked hard to support the family and raise my grandma and her brother up on her own. My grandma acknowledged her mother’s hard work and always pitched in to clean the house or make dinner for the three of them. Despite their humble means, my grandma had high aspirations and never let anything stand in her way. She always tells stories about her mom’s mom, who raised 11 children on a farm in rural Texas. The stories of her Granny were always my favorite to hear—the way she’d venture bravely in the backyard to break her chicken’s necks for their supper or how she showed my grandma her way around the kitchen to make her the best cook I know (food is very important in my family). She looked up to her Granny and respected her deeply. My grandma reminds me of me, in that respect.
My grandma gave birth to my mom at a young age and raised she and my uncle with the help of my granddad, whose parents were from Greece and Lebanon. My grandma tells me stories of how she, a little Texan country girl, got along with my grandfather’s Greek and Lebanese relatives. She bonded quickly with her mother-in-law, over food, of course. She learned to make my Teta’s (Arabic for grandma) Lebanese specialties, including shish barak (the most amazing meat dumpling dish on this planet). She quickly became one of my Teta’s favorite people, like her own daughter. My grandma has a way of doing that—she makes everyone she meets feel like the most extraordinary person in the room.
If I had a penny for every time I’ve been with my Gran and heard someone tell her his or her life story, I’d be a millionaire. No matter where she is—the grocery, car dealership, or nail salon, almost every person she talks to ends up spilling their life story to her. She is incredibly beautiful, blonde hair with the biggest, whitest Texas smile and voice like sweet tea. I learn so much just by watching her interact with people. She’s taught me that just a smile or a few kind words can truly make someone’s day a million times better. And I see the effects of it too—it’s as if a ray of light beams out of her everywhere she goes. People can’t help but feel happy and at peace around her; it’s beautiful.
Gran is also such a boss. She’s one of the top sales people at her insurance company, so she’s wicked smart and knows how to communicate effortlessly with business associates. Not to mention, her outfits are on point. She struts around in four-inch heels and savvy pencil skirts like it’s her job. She’s always dressed to the nines, complete with the perfect shade of lipstick (which is probably where my cousin and I get our obsession for lip color). Gran always taught us how important it is to dress for success. I credit her for my love of fashion and respect for people who dress well.
Overall, the number one lesson my grandmother has taught me is to be thankful and thank God everyday for our blessings. She doesn’t let a day go by where she doesn’t remind me of how blessed I am. Gran taught me that the biggest way to show appreciation is to give back. I feel like she does this by always being there to lend an ear to anyone in need. She has a gift at listening and giving invaluable advice. I don’t know where I’d be without my Gran and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I’m part of such an incredible lineage of women.