What did you learn from your grandmother?

Hello from cold and rainy NYC!  

The last few days I’ve been reaching out to various senior centers, senior services organizations and the like. I’m hoping to get the opportunity to speak and interact with more older New Yorkers for this project. I really love hearing stories and insights from those who are much older than myself. These folks are humbling, opinionated, inspiring, really funny, thought provoking and often don’t give a @#$% about what anyone thinks of them. It’s really refreshing! 

From the time I was 11 until I went to college when I was 18, my very large family lived with my grandmother, who we all called Mema. She passed away when I was in college at the age of 89. Spending these last few days speaking with, and thinking/reading about the seniors in NYC has brought back a lot of nice memories of living with her. I cherish those times and still miss her often. 

I have a ton of stories I could share here, and maybe I will at some point. That would be fun. But when I’m thinking back now and remembering the things I most enjoyed about my grandmother, it was really just hanging out with her and spending time together.  She had a chair she always used in her side of the house and I would sit on the couch near her, and we would just talk about nothing really – cooking, the weather, my grandfather, the family, the lawn…what was for dinner. Dinner was always a popular topic. 

So, to finish this up, there are two things I’m thinking about now. One is that I feel blessed to have had the experience of growing up with a very loving grandmother as a part of my life. And the second is how strongly I feel that the development of young people can greatly benefit by spending time with seniors  – people who have lived through life’s changes, and know the ups and downs of life.  

So what did you learn from your grandparents? Or anyone else of an elevated age. And thanks in advance for sharing! 


My Grandmother


5 thoughts on “What did you learn from your grandmother?

  1. Beautiful post Matt!!! As for my experience… Ashley and I had a really unique experience about a year ago with Ashley’s grandmother (my grandmother-in-law). Estelle was 93 and was living in Toledo (we were in Kalamazoo, MI about 3 hours away) in a nursing home. On a whim, we decided to go and visit her. We spent a beautiful hour visiting with her. She was calm, smiling, talkative and happy. And she met and held our daughter, her great-granddaughter Rivi Estelle (Rivi’s middle name was named for Estelle), for the very first time – Estelle was beaming, and Rivi was totally calm sitting in her arms. It was truly a very special experience. As we were driving home that night, we got a call telling us that Estelle had passed away. We were in shock and were amazed… but that quickly turned to rejoicing. We knew that the hour we spent with her was nothing more than an amazing gift (for both us and Estelle). It was one of the nicest and most beautiful experiences of my life and I felt so grateful to have it… it was truly a gift and blessing. I later wrote a song about the beauty of the moment, called Estelle’s Farewell Gift – http://benjedaneman.bandcamp.com/track/estelles-farewell-gift

  2. From my grandfather I learned that you’re never too old to learn something new, never too old to try something new. He also taught me (by example) the value of patience, of hard work. I learned from watching him receive joy through music and receive happiness from a good meal. He wasn’t my real grandfather, but he was the only grandfather I ever knew (he married my grandmother when I was 5 or 6). Not long before he died he told me “I’m proud of you, boy. I think of you as my blood.” I have two of the violins he made hanging on my dining room wall.

    Benje – that’s a beautiful song. Thanks.

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