My Grandma is my favorite person on the planet. She is 89 and she lives alone. She never learned to drive because she and my Grandpa lived in Chicago for most of their lives and she could take the bus to do anything she needed in the city.
When my mother and her siblings were growing up, my Grandma would take them to baseball games and movies and would sneak beer in for herself. When I was little, she would pour Kool-Aid into little plastic tea cups, roll up salami and cheese, and throw tea parties where we would all get to pretend to be a famous person. I was often Janet Jackson or Miss Piggy.
I don’t remember her ever yelling at us. She just had that “grandma tone” in her voice. If you upset her, all she had to do was say your name, and you would stop whatever you had been doing or were about to do.
She would let me and my brothers sleep in my parents’ bedroom with her when they were out of town. We would climb into bed or sleeping bags and she would say, “Ok, what is everyone going to dream about?” We would go around the room talking about Ninja Turtles or Snow White and I just couldn’t wait to fall asleep thinking about my future dreams.
She has taken such good care of me my whole life. She taught me what love can look like. And now I get to take care of her.
I only live about an hour and a half away from her, so I have been driving down on my day off to help her out. She makes a list of strange household chores she needs done, and I do them. Whatever they are. I change her kitchen curtains to match the seasons, I rotate her bed, I dust her blinds. I don’t mind doing these things—in fact, I wish she would let me do more. The more we talk while I work, the more I learn about how different we are from each other.
She is a Fox-News-watching Republican. She hated President Obama and loves Trump. I am the opposite and can’t wait until the next election. She doesn’t think we should have single-payer healthcare and is concerned about immigrants taking jobs from Americans. She doesn’t understand why I live in the city and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I disagree with everything she thinks about these issues.
None of these things make me love her less and that’s because, above all, I respect my grandmother. I respect her experience and everything she has seen and done that has led her to her opinions. Her views are so vastly different than mine. Even though she has contributed so much to the fabric that has made up my life, we are not of the same cloth.
Respect shouldn’t be something that relies on love. It’s easy for me to love my Grammy because she has shown me so much love and shared so much joy and laughter with me. It is hard to respect her opinions because they are different than mine but that is what respect is, essentially—it is knowing that we both have the right our own opinions. This has also shown me how to respect others with whom I disagree. Everyone has had different experiences and understandings of the world around them, and because of that we may not see eye to eye.
We may have different opinions and ideals but in the end, we all deserve respect. Spending so much time with Grandma has taught me that. I’ll have to thank her next time we go to the grocery store.
This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!