Every Tuesday at 9 a.m. I pick up the phone and call her.
I dial her number, one I know by heart. Her name is Roberta. But I call her Nana Bert — my grandmother.
A few years ago, after my grandpa passed away, I told her I would do a better job of keeping in contact. At that point we only talked sporadically. Usually when she would call me.
With two young daughters, a husband rarely home, and miles and time zones between us, I had plenty of excuses for not doing a better job of keeping in touch.
None of them were very good.
That very first Tuesday, after the funeral, I pulled through the Starbucks drive-thru, ordered a Cinnamon Dolce Latte, and parked. With one hand I pushed a DVD into the player overhead for my youngest daughter, with the other I picked up my cell phone and called her.
Some weeks we talk about everyday life. She fills me in on my cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles. She catches me up on all the happenings at home and I fill her in on the latest from our family. Other weeks we reminisce about Grandpa George, family history, or the camping trips they took us on as kids.
We talk about the time my two cousins, sister, and I rolled down a hill laughing. Dust billowed into the air and filled our mouths as we rolled round and round, down, down. Nana had to give us sponge baths in the camper sink when we returned to camp covered in dirt. The white washcloth was caked with mud by the time it was my turn to get wiped down.
Some weeks I discover things I never knew. How my great-grandmother left her family and went to art school in San Francisco where she met and married my great-grandfather.
Nana Bert also left home to attend college in different state. There she met my grandpa, a Portuguese boy, born and raised in Hawaii, who was the first in his family to leave and attend college on the mainland.
Nana Bert and I, generations apart, participate in the oral tradition of our family. She passes it down to me and I will someday pass it down to my children and grandchildren.
As time goes on, I protect our time together. One week, I decline an invitation to meet a friend. “How sweet,” she says. “You’re such a good granddaughter.”
I am not. Not really. Perhaps in the beginning I called to be a good granddaughter, to hold up my end of the bargain, to fulfill the commandment “honor your father and (grand) mother,” but not anymore.
Something unexpected began to happen on Tuesday mornings.
As each month wore on, and then each year, over time, my call has become as much for me as it is for Nana Bert. God has taken what felt like duty and designed a delightful friendship. Whether ten minutes or two hours, I get to connect with her and it feels like coming home. Like when the wheels touch down after a long flight and everything on the ground is recognizable, comfortable, safe.
Independent, strong, brave, Christ followers: this is the legacy created for our family. Things I would have never known had I not picked up the phone every Tuesday at 9 a.m.
I will pass it down to my girls. I will whisper, It is in your blood, as they spread their wings and fly the nest, to seek their dreams, create stories and traditions of their own. And as I whisper I will be sure to remind them, to always call home.Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Alana, it’s no mistake that God gave you airborne images for this beautiful post. I’m thinking, as I read, about my mother who recently passed away. Before she moved in with us, I called her every morning, and it was probably six months or more before I got over the feeling that I had “forgotten” to call her. Since she passed away in a nursing home, I still jolt every Monday, thinking that I forgot to go visit her over the weekend. Our much loved elders become part of our muscle memory — when we let them — and I think that this is the plan of God.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
What a precious time you and your Nana Bert have. I so wish my children, now grown, would call their grandmother. I have urged and encouraged and they have a wonderful, loving grandmother, but I always get excuses about how busy they are. I think about the heritage and the legacy they are missing out on….stories of old that have shaped who they are in many ways. It’s so sad that the art of the conversation is dying. We all carry phones but never use them for important things like connecting with those we love and who love us. I think the future will hold a lot of regret. Keep making those calls and encourage your kids to call their grandparents. You are building a beautiful legacy.
Alana…thank you for the beautiful childhood experience put into words. How lovely and loving is it that you have and cherish that REALatiinship with your Nana. Unfortunately,I lost all 3 of my grandparents when I was 10. I recall vividly my “Nana Watkins” as someone who made me feel cherished in a brood of 7. That was HUGE for me. She used to invite me for dinner…just me with her. Hmmm….
I do share the same sorrowful sentiment that Bev does. The icky fast and full-speed-ahead instant & constant tech-infused landscape of this world has caused a major shift in authentic, genuine, slow relating. Just as slow-cooked ribs or roast can’t be rushed (I know some moms just conjured up the comvection oven), nothing can replace the warmth of unhurried conversation and taking time to roll down hills and get all muddy.
I am seeing that less and less in the next generations as I watch daily…still trying desperately to steer my teenage children to those good old-fashioned values that stick like candyfloss to your cheeks on a hot summer day.
It is shocking to watch how tech-infused instant and constant interaction has stolen the moments we should create captivate and then…as memories, savour and enJOY over and over.
Thank you for the sweet blessing of getting a glimpse of yours Alana.
And does anyone live close by?… I will meet you at a big hill and roll down it with you into a muddy puddle below – LOL.
We adults should become kids again. Ha!
EnJOY the summer ladies…lets make some MOMories like this with our kids…and our girlfriends and other family. Let us take hilarious new ‘n vibrant trips down memory lane and create more and more. Stuffing them into our brains like baked potatoes – isn’t it wonderful that God gave us the ability to remember! Wow.
Let us pray (I will now) to the Holy Spirit to govern our summer with lots of side-splittling laughter moments…that the Spirit will open up opportunities to roll out the red carpet of joy and laughter.
Inviting & creatingsimple memories that can’t be purchased in a store.
Blessings…and LOL laughter and sweet moments in abunDANCE to all!
~Janine in Toronto
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
May I just add an Amen!!
((hugs)) from the South 🙂
Susan @ Homestyle Faith says
This touched my heart. My grandparents who raised me have both been gone for several years. I was always very close to both of them, but after my Grandpa died, Grandma and I became even closer, if that was possible. She was my very best friend and favorite person in the entire world. Keep making your phone calls, and cherish every moment!
Danielle Bernock says
What a precious thing you have, Alana. Many lose out on such an amazing opportunity. I’m thankful my daughter started calling me daily on her way to school, work etc many years ago. She continued this when we moved times zones away and now we live near one another again. This frequent sharing of both deep and trivial things binds souls together.
Thank you for sharing this story Alana – I hope it inspires many to build these amazing relationships.
Alana, this brings back such memories of my grandmother. Might I make a suggestion to write down this important information that your grandmother shares with you, as time goes by the memory naturally goes. I wish I had written down all of the things my grandmother shared the history of our family as she is gone now and I am older my mind struggles to remember. May God bless you for taking time for your grandmother.
I absolutely love this , Alana!
I also am miles away from my Mawmaw . I try to call her monthly , often every 2 weeks . I also try and send her little cards throughout the year , just to let her know I’m thinking of her .
So many shaving and fun stories and memories were made at her house or with her . She even taught me to make her buttermilk biscuits as a child .
Nowadays, things are a little different , she often doesn’t know where she’s at and starts telling me stories that are in her own mind as she has Demetia . I just listen as she tells this stories but I always later try and remind her of fun things we did , things she taught me , and the days before my Pawpaw died . She often remembers some of those days , but forgets that I even called , even within an hour of our call . My mom moved there to take care of her .
Just last week , she asked me ” when are you coming home ?” , I have been thinking of trying to do a road trip but I have several health issues that doesn’t make traveling either .
This story , I love and appreciate you sharing . I love that you always remember to call ” home ” .
Missy Scudder says
This post left me with tears. What an amazing gift and privelege you have been given. Oh how I miss my grandmother. With 3 grandsons now- I wonder if I will ever get this precious gift. But keep calling. You both need it and treasure it. Thank you for sharing.
Theresa D'Auria says
I never really knew my grandmothers on either side of my family. We had a friend of my grandmother’s who we named Grandma. We would visit with her every year in her tiny apartment in Jefferson City. She’d make cookies and tea treats for us. She was a very special lady and I miss her everyday.
How precious. Lovely legacy being built, one Tuesday at a time. 🙂
Faith Waltke says
I so cherish and enjoy the calls I receive from granddaughters and grandsons. It gives me a “peek” into their daily lives. All of them live in other states and Canada, so visits are few. The memories we share are real treasures.
I’m so happy for you that you’ve shared time with your Gramma. It’s a gift and so are the memories created with it.
Blessings to all,
Rebecca L Jones says
For a long time I was the only one calling to check up on a 2nd cousin. I had moved and didn’t get to see her. She also moved. In her 80’s I sent birthday cards. One day I called and she remembered me but not much else. She thought I still lived in Atlanta, had stopped driving. The only other relative of hers was a nephew, I kept telling her to give him my phone number, the last time I called the number was disconnected, I still have not located her, at 86, she may be in a nursing home or passed and it is sad that no one cared enough to even call.
Awwwwww! This is so sweet! I can so connect. I am as close to my grandparents as to my parents. I don’t have a calling schedule but I call and drop in on my grandma whenever I can. My love her so much. She had 13 children, 70ish grands and as many or more great grands. (Grandpa was the one who kept track of the numbers. ) she loves each one the same, no favorites!!! She is so wonderful! Grandpa went to live with Jesus last Sept and what an extremely huge gaping hole he left! Now my grandma possibly has cancer and we are very concerned for her. But we try to pour in the love and see her as much as possible while we still can. My children are so attached to her also. I always said I hope my grandparents live long enough that my children learn to know them. So I am very blessed! (But please God don’t take Grandma home yet. )
Beth Williams says
This is a great article about life, loving and giving of self. My grandparents died before I was 8. I had my aging parents. I was always close to them. After I married I would go visit them once a week to check on them. When mom got ill I made it a point to go each Monday after work. Even with severe dementia she knew it was me. I kept a good routine. She died in 2009. Then my dad got ill & moved into an assisted living. I kept up the weekly visits. I even upped them to twice a week. When he got really ill I quit my job & started going over 4 times a week. I would take him shopping, walk around or just sit and talk. Mom took tons of pictures. I made dad a nice photo album filled with old pics of him & his past along with all our family. We would look at it periodically. It was enjoyable. Those pictures give me a great look into the past of my parents. Sadly dad passed away earlier this year. I don’t regret visiting them & caring for their needs.