When I first heard about Lacy’s plan to interview her grandmother, I immediately knew that I wanted to interview my own grandma and share the advice and wisdom that she has passed down to me throughout my life. When I was a child, so many of my days were spent at my grandparents’ house by the river, and the lessons I learned in that house are vital parts of who I am today. Although my visits with my grandma are less frequent now (and usually involve a glass of moscato rather than an afternoon playing dress up), I cherish every moment I get to spend with the wonderful woman that I am proud to call my grandma.
What is your secret to staying married and in love?
My grandma and grandpa were married in November of 1952 at the ages of 18 and 20, and remained married until my grandpa passed away right before their 61st anniversary. As a 24-year-old with absolutely no luck in matters of the heart, this was the question I was most excited to ask. “Sense of humor,” she said. “Your grandpa had a great sense of humor and could always make me laugh even when I didn’t want to. And we never went to bed mad…well, maybe it happened once or twice, but usually that’s the secret. You don’t go to bed mad, you solve your problems.”
The author’s grandmother and grandfather
What tools have you used to work through hard times?
When my grandpa died a few years ago, it was a very difficult time for everyone in my family, especially my grandma. While I was mourning the loss of one of the funniest and most special men in my life, my grandma was mourning the loss of the man that had been by her side for most of her life. She claims that her faith is what has kept her going, as well as the love and support of her family and friends.
Do you have any advice for keeping and maintaining valuable friendships?
“Be willing to compromise. One of my very best friends is opposite of me but we’ve always gotten along for over 50 years, 60 years in fact, because we have differences of opinion, but like I say sometimes I keep still and I know that sometimes she keeps still. We laugh a lot and tell each other our inner most thoughts and we look to each other when we want advice that we wouldn’t get from somebody else. It’s pretty cool because I have a best friend that I’ve had for over 60 years.”
What did you do for fun in your 20s and 30s?
When I asked this question, I was shocked to find out that my grandparents weren’t so different from my friends and I. She told me how they would go to parties, “do the twist” and then go home and eat in the early hours of the morning. Her nights out may have been a little different than my late night trips to Denny’s (and probably a lot classier), but it’s a friendly reminder that not much as changed over the years.
The author’s grandmother in her 20’s
What do you wish you had known about life in your 20s and 30s?
“Oh, I’m still learning and I’m almost 80, but I wish I had known that it wasn’t necessary to always be right. I was kind of anal when it came to housekeeping and I can remember taking the boys in the car when they were little and I would always come back in and make sure everything was in order. I don’t do that anymore. A good friend said to me one time, “You know, I have a messy house but someday my kids are going to be gone and then I’ll have all the time in the world to clean,” and I never forgot that. So I did learn when I was younger what things were important in life, but I just wish sometimes that I had learned them a little sooner.”
How do you view the concept of beauty and what do you wish younger women knew about beauty?
“Beauty is only skin deep,” she explained. “I have met people and thought, “Oh my goodness, what a beautiful person,” but then I got to know them and they were not nearly as beautiful as they appeared. I have also met other people who appeared plain, but when I got to know them, they were beautiful. Beauty comes from within and it’s all attitude and how you carry yourself.”
How did you view fashion in your 20s and 30s and how do you view fashion now?
I have always approached fashion with a very open mind, so it didn’t surprise me when my grandma shamelessly referred to herself as a “trendsetter.” She told me that she was “always the first one to wear the different styles,” and then went on to say, “At this point in my life, I wear what I feel comfortable in, whether or not it’s fashionable. I also don’t disagree with the fashion today. I know young girls today dress much better than we did at their age.”
To finish the interview, I simply asked my grandma if she had any advice for the young women who may read what she has to say, and this is what she told me:
“Don’t give up hope. We hear an awful lot on the news and in the paper, and it seems like it’s all negative, but I have a great deal of faith in young people today. They are our future and there are a lot of good young people out there doing a lot of good things and there are a lot of older people doing good things, too. We just don’t hear about these things. Also, I believe in passing it on. And it doesn’t hurt to smile. Just a small thing sometimes means a lot to somebody.”
What I’ve come to find out is that my grandma is great at taking her own advice. From her seemingly endless supply of wisdom to the silver spoon ring that I never take off, the countless little things that my grandma has done for me and given me over the years all add up and take up a space in my heart that only she can claim.Editor’s Note: When LACY approached me with the idea of interviewing her grandmother I was instantly on board. Lydia is named after my own ‘abuela’ and the spirit of what we do here has always come from a place of learning from the amazing women around us. So, using Lacy’s original interview as a jumping off point, we will be posting one interview from various Lydia contributors and their own grandmothers every week this March, in a celebration of Women’s History Month. Like all of these women, every interview will be different, every matriarch imparting different words of wisdom. I am so excited to hear little pieces of these amazing stories and I hope you will be too. -KJ
Lauren Mahaffy is a Syracuse, NY native and a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in music business. As much as she would love to be in LA eating burgers at In-N-Out and working at a record label, she is currently spending some time at home with her dog, Princess Sparkle. When she is not job hunting, she can be found binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, posting funny gifs on Tumblr, and singing Miley Cyrus songs in the car. Read her embarrassing tweets @laurenmahaffy