The Youngest grandma

Sophie young ‘19

How young is too young to be a grandma, because I’m one and I’m only seventeen. My friends have given me this nickname because of my creative hobbies: sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery... the list goes on. Some might take offense to this nickname, but not me. I know that my “grandma” qualities are some of my greatest strengths.

This is what I remember about my grandma, Grandmary: I am sitting at an antique, oak, drop-leaf table, expanded to its maximum, comfortably seating sixteen members of my family. Surrounded by sconces with filament light bulbs, hanging plates, and grandchildren’s handiwork, we eat. The food, made by my mother and older cousin’s trained culinary talents, comes mostly from the field half a mile down the road. The placemats, woven by my aunt, are made from yarn the she hand spun and dyed. The honey for the scratch-made biscuits comes from my mother’s bees. The serving spoons are carved by my mother, and the bowls are thrown on a pottery wheel by my brother. Grandmary and Bobbob sit at the head of the table overseeing all. Grandmary’s perfectionist’s eye noting and adjusting inconsistencies.

In the early 1950s, my great-grandfather bought some property in rural Alabama — a lake was dug, a trailer was placed, and so was created the favorite weekend spot: Charob, named after his two sons Charles and Robert. In 1999, my grandfather (Robert) retired, built a house, and moved with my grandmother to Charob. Now, most of my extended family (on my mother’s side) live on the property: there are seven houses on the “family farm,” filled with nineteen of my family members. When my grandparents first moved, there was absolutely nothing within a thirty-minute drive, so they adapted and learned the skills necessary to living so far from civilization. Because of this, they are now expert gardeners, woodworkers, fiber artists, cane weavers, cooks, and beekeepers. This tradition of making a living has been passed down in my family.

For me, this tradition has taken in the form of creating my own wardrobe. Growing up in a community of family, I inherited lots of hand-me-downs (not always the most glamorous, especially since three out of the four older children were boys). Wanting to wear something different has lead me to adapt and learn skills just like my grandparents. I now sew, knit, crochet, and alter clothes to make them any way I want. I have grown these talents further, recently learning how to make patterns and construct whole pieces of clothing from scratch. This tradition of making has lead me to love and create my own sense of fashion. When you look at something in a store and think, “oh I would like that if it was a little different” or, “I really like this it just doesn't fit quite right.” Well, I can fix that, and I do. Most of the clothes that I buy, I alter to fit my own personal style.

So being a “grandma”? It’s a compliment. It means I’m creative, resourceful, and adaptable. It also means that I’m representative of a family tradition that I’m proud of. It reminds me that I can adapt and learn new skills that are important in new surroundings. Those skills; altering clothes has taught me to succeed through trial and error, which I now apply in my writing (even this essay). Knitting has taught me to be thorough, which I use in math class, double checking my work like rows in a sock. It’s made my life more productive, in school and sports as well as my creative endeavors. My Grandmaness defines me. I make things and it makes me, me.