Every other year from when I was two until I was 16 we went home to Ireland to visit relatives during the summer. The drive from the airport to my grandma’s farmhouse took a few hours. I always remember the crackle of the car tires hitting the small stones in her driveway when we arrived. And then around the corner she would come beaming towards us, arms outstretched. That feeling of welcome and love is something I will never forget.
Although we only had ten visits, at a month-long each, I felt so close to her. She didn’t have much schooling, but she always had a dictionary in the house when her kids were young. They didn’t have many belongings, but they all knew they were loved. She instilled the pillars of strength, faith, and acceptance into my mom and her siblings. When they all grew up and left to find work in other countries, she prayed for them and waited for the visits home.
And home we came. My grandma taught me to believe in yourself, to respect others and to always do the right thing. I still wear the Claddagh ring I bought at Shannon Airport with money my grandma gave me when I was 16. It reminds me of the love, family and loyalty she represented.
As my mom played dolls with my young daughter yesterday, and then brought her out for a walk by the lake and for a bite to eat, it reminded me of all the gifts women pass down from generation to generation. And the fact that there is no one like a grandma to show you the way.