"Mommy, look!" Mallory said, stopping in the middle of the school parking lot. She was pointing at the front license plate of the car we were passing. "World's Greatest Grandma," it said.

"Do you think it's true that the person who owns this car is the world's greatest grandma?" I asked.

"No," she said.

"Then who is?" I asked.

"Well, there are two," she said. "Grandmom and Mama."

I smiled. And I thought, not quite.

The summer between seventh and eighth grade, my grandma tried to teach me how to sew. Grandma was an excellent seamstress, a talent she passed along to my mother (who made, among other things, all of my and my sisters' prom and wedding dresses) and to my older sister. Grandma was also a Home Economics teacher for many many years, so she had some experience at teaching people to sew.

I, however, was not a willing student. Apart from a vague desire to be able to do everything that Mom and Jana did, I didn't really want to learn how to sew. Precision work of any kind has never been a strong point for me, so the pinning, and the snipping, and the lining up of seams frustrated and bored me in equal measure. The sewing machine was my nemesis, forever thwarting my efforts by running out of thread at the worst possible moments. And that bobbin thing -- how many times did I get the bobbin thread snarled up in horrible tangled knots? Every time I lowered the presser foot, that's how often -- and that's something that I never saw happen to Jana.

I was making a pair of royal blue pants, I recall, with a patch pocket. When I got to the pocket, Grandma explained the steps to take to make it lay correctly -- to mitre it, I think is the term. It involved a lot of pressing things flat, and lining things up, and stitching and lifting and rotating the fabric and oh, I just didn't care. I went through the process with a surly haste. "There," I said when I was done. Grandma inspected it. It was crooked, of course, and one corner wasn't even sewn down properly. "Well, Krista," she said, "it's not perfect." I sighed heavily. "You don't have to take it out," she said. "But like I always told me students -- if you don't at least try to make it right, you'll never be happy with it."

I don't think I ever got that pocket to look right; I don't think I ever wore that pair of pants. But I remember those words, and they apply to a whole lot more than just sewing.

Happy 90th birthday, Grandma. I wish I could be at your party and tell you in person that I'm lucky to have you, and that I do think that you're the greatest. I love you!

I don't think it would be fair if I didn't mention that I also think that my other grandma is the greatest. She is! How lucky I am -- and how lucky my daughters are -- two have two awesome grandmas in our lives? That has to be pretty rare.

Also, happy birthday, Dad! You're also awesome! Especially since you taught me skills that I still use, like cribbage, and how to use an encyclopedia. And someday I'll get around to reading Death Comes for the Archbishop, I promise!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. I printed it and will take it to her tomorrow.