There’s a bit of my grandmother in everything I write. You’ll meet her in my clean sense of humor, my love of words, my appreciation of homemaking, and how I would do anything, absolutely anything, for my children. You will see her in how I value education and how proud I am to have graduated from college. You’ll know her by my frugality and my reluctance to replace circa-1984 bathroom tile even though I could. The best choice for your budget — and the environment — are often the same thing. I learned that from my grandma.
Even writing a newspaper column is an expression of my grandma. She not only subscribed to her local newspaper her whole life, but she also supported her former hometown newspaper in Kansas. My grandma read newspapers every day and did multiple crossword puzzles. There was always a cup of pencils and pens by her recliner so she could work on them. When Alzheimer’s disease took her ability to concentrate, she still kept a paper nearby, because it was familiar.
If you’ve read my books “Sweet Bliss” and “Good Catch,” you’d recognize my grandma in the character of Martha Reynolds, who cares for her baby grandson each week, just like my grandma did for me when I was little. Growing up, “Grandma Days” were special. We’d spend hours cutting wrapping paper into strips and taping them together to create paper chains that could stretch across the downstairs. She bought us memberships to the San Diego Zoo so we could see the animals together.
I have a new book coming out this summer called “The History of Us” which is a romance about a small-town crime that throws together ex-high school sweethearts who have never quite gotten over their past. My grandma’s love of travel directly inspired sections of this story. In the book, Dustin and Andrea take a whirlwind trip around the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. They soak up history wherever they go, just like my grandma did. She took me on trips from one part of the world to another. We visited catacombs in Italy, ancient temples in Bora Bora and pyramids in Mexico. My grandma didn’t usually purchase souvenirs, but she always purchased guidebooks so she could learn as much history as possible.
When I look back at my own writing sometimes I think that I keep telling the same stories over and over again in different ways. For me, one of those stories will always be how much I love my grandma, how much I miss her, and how hard I try to live each day in a way that honors her.
Those of us with grandmothers who left imprints on our heart are blessed. My history, is my grandma’s history, and so much of it is sweet and good.
This Mother’s Day, I’d like to say a special thank you to grandmothers. The time you spend with your grandchildren might seem fleeting, but love them enough, and they’ll remember forever.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at email@example.com.