My Grandma Mildred

Family Tree Magazine is doing a 30 day writing challenge – dishing out a prompt every day for the next month. Now that the garden is nearly done, I thought this would be a great challenge and help me get back into the swing of writing and researching again.

Day One: Think of your ancestor as a story; describe them as an author would.

I would like to introduce my “Grandma Mildred”……….

Grandma was short in stature – didn’t even cross the 5’ threshold. When I was in 5th grade, I surpassed her in height and shoe size. Her hair was artificially colored a warm shade of brown, and she kept it short and curled for most of the time that I knew her. She wore a little make up. A little foundation that, sometimes, may have been a shade too dark, and the pinkest of blushes and lipsticks. She didn’t have much for eyebrows – and sometimes penciled them with a little color too – but not too bold.

Grandma Mildred

She looked like your typical grandma. Polyester pants and matching shirt. Sometimes she would sport jeans (elastic waist, of course) and a sweatshirt with her grandkids’ names on them. In the back of her closet, she kept some fancy heels and a yellow dress from earlier days. I would wear them sometimes and pretend that I was Sandy at the Rydell High dance.

She looked like your typical grandma, but she didn’t act like your typical grandma. Maybe she did. I don’t know that there is a stereotypical grandma out there?

She was spunky and full of life and love. She loved everyone, and everyone loved her. EVERYONE. Her name was Mildred, known as “Millie” by some …….  she probably should have been named Joy.  Millie probably suited her though.

A Young Mildred

She answered the phone “Nnnyello”. Her doorbell could wake the dead. She wasn’t afraid to park her car in her garage with the snakes, nor go after that big snake that was guarding her front door one hot summer afternoon. She fed the birds, and loved to watch them outside her kitchen window.

If there is anyone that I would most like to be like, it would be her. She was naturally social – she was very extroverted and outgoing. She greeted everyone with a big smile and a “hello” and made you feel special. And she was genuine about it. There was no fake in her enthusiasm. She absolutely loved people – the ones she knew and the ones she didn’t know. She never complained about them either – at least not in front of me. I never heard her utter an unkind word about anyone.  Even if they deserved it.

Grandma wasn’t stuffy or fussy, and certainly not naggy. She was interested in you, what you were doing, and what you had to say. And you could tell her anything because you knew she wouldn’t reply with unsolicited advice or harsh judgement. She loved your friends. Okay, maybe she didn’t love one or two of them, but she never would tell you that or say anything to make them feel uncomfortable.

She didn’t cook though. When we visited Grandma, we went out for dinner. We also knew we would have to make a trip to the grocery store because Grandma’s cupboards were minimally stocked. Empty, really. And the milk was spoiled – if there was milk at all. The only cookies she had waiting for you were the Oreo’s leftover from your last visit – which were now very soft. On a special occasion she might whip out a meal – meatloaf, beef and noodles, fried chicken – which were all tasty, but she wasn’t really in the habit of cooking. My Grandpa had died when I was only four years old, and Grandma was in her early fifties.  She was a young widow and her children were grown. She was a single woman who was busy working to pay the bills.

Growing up, we visited Grandma quite a bit. We went camping every summer – at least once and sometimes twice. We were always out and about with her – going some place, visiting some body, doing some thing. She also had a lot of friends that would stop by to visit over coffee, or just swing by to see what she was up to. She enjoyed having a beer, playing cards, and even a little dancing now and then. In the evenings you could find her winding down on the back porch with a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a cigarette.

She passed away in 2000. She was a person I wanted my children to know, but that was not to be. I miss her.

Not exactly and “author’s narrative”, but this is how I remember Grandma.

Great Grandma Mildred


  1. Well you certainly know how to make your Mom cry first thing in the morning. You described Mom, Grandma to a T. She would have loved it.

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