Things I learnt from my Grandparents

Good morning and hello,

Today is the Sunday before Advent. Today it’s Sunday of the Dead – a day where we (in Germany and speacially we as Protestant Christians) commemorate the lost ones. For years I have been going to see and prepare the graves for winter often with my mom sometimes alone. Usually the Saturday before today. While this post goes up, I am on my way to attend service and go see the graveyard. This year I have lost the last of my grandparents. I’ve thought a lot about my grandparents the past months and how grateful I am to have spent the time we had together. I know not everyone is lucky enough to get to know all four of them. Each one of them taught me something and today I feel like sharing some things with you.

Sunday of the Dead hands

Granny – she was a cooking wizard and made the best apple pie and kohlrabi stew. She always had sheet cake in the cellar when we came over. She was adventurous not only in her cooking. Unfortunately most her recipes were in her mind where Alzheimer’s stole them from us. One of the first things she taught me was how to wreathe flower crowns from sea pinks. She was a handicraft woman and also explained to me how to hold a saw correctly. She taught me respect of the elder and of places. As of today I will never run or ride a bike on a cemetery and feel anger when I see people do so. And then I learned all the board and card games from her and her girlfriends. Only because of her I know how to play Nine Men Morris, Checkers, Rommé or Mau Mau. Granny was a strong woman often had an opinion and didn’t take much b***s*** from anyone. She was the only one who was ever truly mad at me because I scared her. And so I learnt that my actions have consequences. I think I could have learnt a lot more from her.

Gramps – only of late I learnt that gramps was a very moral person and traded that in for high ranking career. I do see a lot of that trait in me. Other then this gramps was someone who knew how to enjoy life. Often his friends would stop by to enjoy some beer (or schnaps) in the garden and he would tell the latest jokes he picked up. I think all jokes I know are from him. Some are secret life lessons. There was his love for sports and we watched endless soccer games and olympics together and he often explained rules. Gramps taught me how to swim. He taught me how to ride a bike on a busy street and how to find coltsfoot on the roadside. He kept this joy of life despite the heartaches and blows of fate he encountered and had a calmness to him. He is the only one who taught me on his deathbed without saying anything: to look back on my life with contentment and peacefulness. If I manage that he taught me everything.

Grandma – if I had to use one word to describe her it would be “warmherzig” I think the best translation would be caring. I have never seen a person in my life who gave her whole self to others like my grandma did. Not only did she support her family from a very young age and slipped into a role of motherhood, she never left that role. She was always concerned about the well being of others. She was a charitable woman. I often feel reminded that I should be more caring. Not in a guilty way though more in a nudging way. I remember an incident this Easter when coming back from my family I was giving a homeless person my leftovers in an impulse and felt so good about it. It wasn’t planned. I was just feeling like I could do more and without thinking or fear I did. And then I thought about my grandma. The other thing I often think about her is when I come up with an unusual creative idea. My grandma didn’t have much but she made gold crowns from left over coffee packages to play with for us grandkids. She always had a solution to a problem. Mostly they were very practical. Speaking of practical some of my best baking know-hows are hand downs from her as well. I often called her when first living alone and she walked me through recipes. Only because of her I know the secret of potash and hartshorn in christmas cookies.

Grandpa – he was a man of books and learning. He was always curious. And while he was a man of faith he was also deeply interested in science and for him those two things didn’t exclude. I give him credit for my missing fear of all small creatures. He was fascinated by small bugs and spiders and such and every walk in the park he would point out some new animal and then tell us about where they live, what they eat and how they breed. Mixed in were the plants along the way. I think his love for parks and wildlife somehow transferred a tiny bit to me. I find it fascinating seeing a mouse and discovering her trail. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that he also had a big impact on my faith. And he also invoked my love for architecture and art history. I rarely enter a church and looking for some details he pointed out when I was merely 6 years old. I wished I had more time with him because the older I got the more I connected to him. Unfortunately he was the first to leave us.

All of them taught me one thing: modesty. I believe it had a lot to do with experiencing a world war and real hunger, escaping troops and fighting for survival. Just to land in yet another political system with controlled supplies and being monitored in every move. I usually don’t take things for granted and am grateful. I might not show it but I often realize that I am much more aware than other people around me. I do believe it is character trait worths having.

Well, this post got personal. Hope you you enjoyed it and I would love to hear what you learnt from your grandparents.

Happy Sunday,


4 thoughts on “Things I learnt from my Grandparents

  1. This is a beautiful tribute Tobia. Thank you for sharing with us what you’ve learned from your grandparents. I’ve never sat down and thought about what each of mine taught me. I had different relationships with each of them. The one word that comes to mind when I think of about all 4 of them is loyalty. They were each always loyal to each other, to their family, and to themselves.
    Courtney A. Casto recently posted…How I Blew My Four Day WeekendMy Profile

    1. Thank you for sharing that Courtney. Yes I guess loyalty was something important to mine too. I sometimes feel like this is another generation thing.

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