Knowledge My Gran Passed Down

My gran & grandad on their wedding day, June 19, 1942

My gran was born on 27 August, 1919 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She passed away at the age of 92, three years ago.  I was lucky to have spent a lot of time with her growing up.  These are some of the things she taught me...

There's no excuse for being racist.  My gran led a girl scout troop in the 1950s which two of her daughters were in.  As she started to desegregate her group (part of a national movement) she received angry, threatening phone calls from white parents.  This did not stop her from integrating the troop.  So whenever I hear white people excusing racism in older white people, I get a cramp from my eyes rolling back into my head. People have always had a choice whether to be racist or not, regardless of the decade they were born in.

You should raise your girls just as you would your boys in regards to education, chores, and accomplishing their dreams.  She also taught me that in regards to having sons, when they are grown you should be happy for and accept the woman (or man) they choose as a partner.  That it is petty and unhealthy when women need to compete with their sons' girlfriends and that this is something no good mother should aspire to.

My gran in 1925, pic taken in her Minneapolis back garden

Stand up for what you believe in.  Be a citizen activist.  I am very lucky to have marched with my gran (in her 80s at the time) against the war in Iraq in the early 2000s.

Don't cook a new recipe for the first time when you are expecting guests.  I'll admit it, I do this often. But she's right.  One of my most favourite Gran Stories comes from this.

Early in her married life she and my grandad invited one of his friends over for dinner.  She decided to make a chocolate jellyroll, even though she'd never tried the recipe before.  Every time she tried to roll the cake, it broke.  As she was getting more and more frustrated grandad shouted into the house (he was mowing the grass in the back garden), "Hey honey! How's the jellyroll coming?" To which she fecked the whole thing straight out the door into the lawn and said, "There! That's how its going."  Hahaha. 

One of the most important lessons my gran taught both my mom and myself is: 'the more people who are in your child's life and love them, the better'.  Don't be jealous, as a mom, when a beloved auntie/teacher/nanny/(and later)girl/boyfriend/etc bonds with your child.  Don't let your own jealousy issues (if you have any) lesson the amount of love your child receives from the outside world.  Don't let your own selfishness negatively affect your kids.  If you are a parent, you're probably always going to be a parent.  The loving bonds your child shares with another does not lessen, in any way, they bond they have with you.  Don't let yourself get in the way doing what's right for your kids.

Its okay to be single.  Both of my grans were widowed fairly young.  Neither ever remarried.  In her 80s, my gran went to live in a retirement community.  She had three suitors.  She dated a couple of them (even driving one of the men around on a date as his kids had confiscated his driving license) but wasn't really pushed.  When her kids (in their 40s & 50s) asked her if she'd chosen one of the men as her boyfriend she answered, "I love men.  But I don't want to own one." Haha.  She was 89.

Photograph of my gran taken sometime between 1937-1942. My grandad especially loved this photo. 


  1. Beautiful story and your gran had great advice.

    1. Ah, thanks, Mel! For a couple years in my 20s I would spend one weekend a month with my gran. The excuse was that she was teaching me how to cook but actually I was going for the stories and just to spend time with her. :-)


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