What are You Doing With Your Grandchildren?

A renewed website seems the right time to blog about the things that are important to me. I hope you will find them of relevance in your life and decide to follow along the path where these irregular posts may lead.

White Nano

My first question, “What do you do with your grandchildren?” brings to mind the gifts my grandparents offered me. Most significant is the life skills I learned from my Norwegian grandmother, Dad’s mother. She showed me how to knit, to crochet, to embroidery, to make and serve coffee. Then when I was old enough, she taught how to sew a simple seam. I learned to manage using my left hand to guide the fabric, and my right hand turning the handle of her hand-cranked sewing machine.

We had no electricity there on the float, no refrigeration or roads to the outside world. We were essentially locked in by water and our escape was by water. With her quiet assured manner Grandma Gunhild, who I called White Nano for her silver white hair, made everyday life lessons interesting. Until I was nine years old, she was a daily influence on me. (My determined granddaughter requested a sewing machine for Christmas when she was nine, and then took lessons to learn to use it. Sadly, I was not in Alberta to teach her.)

Little Nano

My mother’s mother, Little Nano, was as different from White Nano as she could have been. I spent time with her during summer visits to their Jackson Bay farm. Short and solid with a wide range of farm and gardening knowledge, Nano taught me the difference between the weeds and the cultivated plants as we moved together along the rows. She showed me how to thin beets, turnips and carrots, then called upon me to pick the peas and beans. During my summers at the farm it became my job to feed the chickens and collect the eggs. Occasionally I was allowed to turn the handle of the milk separator and watch it pour out cream for our breakfast porrige. These were all life skills in her world but never as significant in mine. Both of my grandfathers made their own contribution to my knowledge of life, but that story is for another time.

Dead now for thirty years, I’ve had some time to think about what my own parents gave to my three children. They came to visit us regularly and were present at every Christmas and family celebration, taking a serious interest in what each of them was interested in and what they were doing. I think the important thing is they were present in their young lives and made a positive impression on it. Despite our distance challenges I have tried to follow their example.