Grandparents and Being Green


I have been doing a lot of thinking about my grandparents lately and I knew I wanted to share some of my memories about them on my blog. However, I must give credit where credit is due, part of my inspiration came from an article I read over on Mother Nature Network, about how our grandparents and great-grandparents were ‘green’ back when it was just a color and not a catch all term or a way of life.
Read it here
Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. I spent many summer days in their backyard. It was there that I climbed a peach tree and got honeysuckle right off the vine.
It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I began realizing the profound impact my grandparents have had on my life.
With them, I experienced true nurturing and what it was to be doted upon. At their house, it always seemed like I had the freedom to really play, to imagine, to dream, to truly and deeply experience what it is to be a child. I learned a lot about discipline, having balance in your life and boundaries. I think the lesson that has stuck with me the most is frugality, which is something I initially rejected. My grandparents grew up during the Great Depression, and my grandmother has always lived her life as though the Depression could strike again at any moment.

Being that now I (along with everyone else) am trying to figure out how to survive in this Great Recession, Grandma’s wisdom is really blossoming within me. I can remember rolling my eyes at my grandmother every time she uttered the phrase “Honey, I grew up in the Depression, you just didn’t throw anything away.” I remember thinking how embarrassed I would have been if my mother had made all of mine and my siblings clothes for us. And thinking about walking to school, bathing once a week, and growing most of my own food was just too mortifying for words.
Now as an adult, I love to walk, and on the weekends I willingly walk around town to run errands, and I wish I had paid attention to Grandma and learned how to grow and can my own vegetables. Sorry Grandma, I am not bathing once a week. That is one ‘extravagance’ I will afford myself. ;-D
The saying is that hindsight is 20/20. And as an adult, my biggest regret is not having enough of my grandparents wisdom with me today, not caring enough or respecting their insights enough when I had the chance to really absorb them. My grandpa passed away in 1996, and my grandma is 90 years old. She is energetic, happy and physically, she’s as strong as an ox. However, she has Alzheimer’s. At this point, I really have no way to get anymore of either one of their wisdom.
If I had my teen years to do over again, I would have spent more time at my grandparent’s house. I would have moved in with them over the summer and really learned about their lives and their experiences. Not just their frugality throughout the Depression, but also, throughout World War II. My grandpa was in the Navy and fought in the War and my grandma stayed behind and began raising their family and kept their home life. There are so many questions I’d love to ask. So many things I wish I knew. So many skills I do not have.
It’s very sad to think that in just two generations, we’ve already lost the ability to basically take care of ourselves. Here, my great-grandmother could sew her entire family’s wardrobes, not only make any meal from scratch, but plant, grow it, and can it herself. She washed her clothes with homemade lye soap on a rock and a washboard and hung them to dry. No electric washer and dryer, no bottles of Tide and Snuggle. No McDonald’s for her kids.
Oh yes, and when my great-grandma lost her husband, she not only took care of the house, but she also went back to work to take care of her five children. She was quite the woman.

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