Thanks for the difficult family members

My grandmother, my mother’s mother, could be a grump. In real life, she tended to be haughty and critical. I don’t know if she was anyone’s favorite person.

She had icy, cut-crystal blue eyes, so blue they seemed too clear and bright to be real. She seemed to look through you. She was a beautiful, classy woman.

Her life started out rough and then she experienced disappointments where she wanted happiness and elegance.

My grandmother with my sister and me at my sister’s college graduation (side note: LOVE the 1970s fashion in this photo!)

My grandmother sat up straight and she didn’t hesitate to tell you to sit up straight too. In any photo I took with her, she always told me to turn my hip to the camera so I didn’t look wide, even as a kid.

At my sister’s college graduation where I turned my hip, with my aunt in the fabulous 1970s rainbow outfit and my dad in the back with an incredible tie. Happy smile on my sis!

Sometimes it seemed she saw the world split in two: there was her, and there were the others who could serve her, or disappoint her.

With one glance to her face, you could tell she didn’t approve. Of anything. She was someone who smiled with her mouth and rarely her eyes.

I didn’t spend Thanksgivings with her. My family had its own fractured, distant ways. Growing up, I had the holidays with only my parents until they divorced, and a few rare times, with my brother or sister.

My grandmother was difficult to deal with in real life but a fantastic penpal. She wrote me letters every month for a couple of years while I was in college. She wrote about her passions when she was a young woman and how she saw a great intelligence in me.

She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She only said it in letters but maybe that was the best place to say it. In real life, she questioned my clothing and hair choices. To be fair, they are often questionable.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I give thanks for difficult people who make a difference. Not always easy to love, but worthy. I am thankful for my grandmother, more so every year.

I am thankful for the family I have, different maybe from other people’s or the ideal, but they are mine.


At the table, I will take a breath and pray to become more forgiving and more grateful.

With grown-up eyes, I see how we are all still children, children of God begging for love.

This Thanksgiving, may God bless you with eyes shining with love to see the goodness always around you. May you recognize the little moments of sweetness that will grow sweeter as time passes. May you have colorful memories to last you through the winter of your life.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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