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Memories of My Grandma Miller

December 5, 2020

Another Way for week of November 27, 2020

Memories Creep Back and Make Connections

I had the oddest going-to-sleep memories filling my brain the other night. I had read a devotional in Rejoice! by Charlotte Hardt, a retired registered nurse who not only has grandchildren, but a great grandchild. She remembers sitting between her grandparents during church and loving it when her grandma slipped her peppermint candies during the sermon.

In my case it was Grandpa who was known for slipping kids wintergreen peppermints when they came up to him after the church service. And my dad carried forward the tradition, at least for a while.

All of a sudden my own grandmother popped into my mind. The one who lived in the apartment attached to our farm home in northern Indiana.

Grandpa Uriah Miller and Grandma Barbara Miller (probably in her early 80s.)

I started trying to remember what made her special. I knew her from approximately six months until I was 11. Since my oldest grandsons are now seven, I know the impressions and memories they are forming with us are long lasting.

Grandma Miller was plump, no doubt it, and her roundness (especially when she was younger) was nothing but comforting when she enveloped you in a hug. She had “sugar diabetes” as we called back it then, and she watched her sugar. I remember seeing the strips of testing paper she kept in their very tiny bathroom. My mother recalls Grandma bringing over the test strips for her to see: blue meant her level of sugar was good, and orange was bad. Eventually she had a stroke.

Their biggest room was a bedroom/living room combo where Grandpa’s legendary and historic grandfather clock stood in one corner. We loved to help Grandpa wind his clock. There was a china cabinet holding Grandma’s special antique dishes, and two chairs for them including a rocker (which I now have in my bedroom). Grandma Miller (her name was Barbara) would allow me to handle and play with some of the cabinet items including a small yellow plastic salt and pepper shaker in a basket. I loved it and asked her if I could have it when she was gone. She talked about such things often, so it wasn’t like I was anxious for her to die. It was quite unimaginable for me, because they were always there and my parents enjoyed having live-in babysitters, as my mother will still admit.

Salt and pepper shaker: so tiny, so cute, so old! The salt and pepper are at least 80 years old, I’m guessing.

Their apartment included a very small porch to the east where trellises held climbing roses in summer. When Grandma died at age 85, Grandpa carried a fresh rose each day to the funeral home, to put in her hands. Their marriage and love last 67 years through bad times and good. May we all be so fortunate.

What will your grandkids remember about you?

Perhaps more than anything, we want things to stay the same at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, right?

–The same toys you played with the last time. For my girls they always wanted to play with my mother’s corn elevator and wagonload of kernels that they’d always scatter all over the carpet.
–The always-read books should be out—oh, maybe a new one now and then.
–The same foods we love.
–The house to smell the same.
–A big hug and kiss (maybe, for the willing).
–The familiar clothes.
–The rocker in the same place.

Some things have to change. My father eventually got to the point that he realized the message he was sending to children at church contradicted the things parents were teaching about not accepting candy from a stranger.

Grandma Miller, after she had a stroke.

Finally, we learn that grandparents don’t last forever, and we cherish them even more, somehow, after they are gone. If yours are still living, make sure they know you love them even across the miles.


Your own strongest memory of a grandmother?

What will you grandchildren remember about you?

Heirlooms you love?

Comment here or send to,

or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Kay Reynolds permalink

    I have Grandma and Grandpa’s secretary. I remember my mom asking me if I would ever want it because they were going to get rid of it. I said yes and I am so glad I did. I love it. I remember them telling stories about some of the things in it. What precious memories.

  2. Something around the eyes of your Grandma Miller reminds me of my own mother. Precious memories!

    • She looks a bit sad in the photos above. I think it was her stroke speaking. I couldn’t find the roly poly pictures of her when she was robust. Of course, losing two of her daughters while in their youth, and being an orphan herself–she certainly had reasons to be sad. But she made a good life but in spite of it all. And we also have precious memories. I’m enjoying the conversations I’m having on FB with some of my cousins and second cousins today. (Kay above a first cousin.) At least some of us can connect there and here!

  3. PERT SHETLER permalink

    I remember the ice cream truck coming to our farmhouse and Grandma Miller buying Eskimo Pies and sliding off the chocolate covering and giving it to me to eat since she had diabetes and shouldn’t be eating it. Also, she taught me how to dunk cookies in coffee at breakfast time.

    • What a strong and precise and precious memory: the sliding off the chocolate covering!! I couldn’t have come up with that! But yes, I do think I remember that happening. 🙂 (Or did we get dairy frozen treats like that off of the milk truck??). And yes we all remember learning to dunk cookies–but you never fell in love with coffee, did you? Thanks for sharing!

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