This post is part of a series I’m calling The Mother’s Project, where I will be highlighting the incredible moms in my life throughout the month of May. Check back later this week for more posts!
My Grandma Horning (my dad’s mother) is easily the most affectionate relative I have. Now, Mennonites aren’t necessarily known for their hugs and kisses, so I’m not sure where it came from, but you could always, 100% of the time count on Grandma to demand a kiss. I didn’t mind it—I actually thought it was very sweet. But ask all of my boy cousins … they might have some different opinions.
Another point of contention among the kids involving my grandmother was her food. Let me tell you … she was WAY ahead of the ballgame with this anti-grain/dairy, paleo movement. I am not exaggerating when I say she had all of us grandkids (and there were 21 of us!) eating buckwheat pancakes back in the 90s. She gave us soy milk with our rice and sugar-free cereal and dreamt of taking shots of wheatgrass every morning. I have no idea how she knew about all of this, but looking back, it’s seriously impressive! If I had listened to her back then, I would undoubtedly be a much healthier adult now.
She raised six kids, five girls and a boy, my dad. Money was tight but she and my grandfather worked so hard to provide for them. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and she loved him through each and every crazy idea, including breeding St. Bernards at one point.
My grandfather passed away in 2005, just after I started college. I remember looking at my grandmother as his funeral and thinking about how lost she looked. They did most things together. Sure, they had their separate hobbies and interests, but I almost always saw them together, living life side by side.
I thought about their life together, and the shocking amount of people that exist because of the two of them. They always seemed like a stately pair, quiet and noble, perched on top of such a massive family tree. And that day, I realized that it was just Grandma now. She would become the matriarch of the family.
She always been an intensely social human being—loving to chat for hours about anything. She comes from a line of very intellectual, educated, and artistic women. It’s a heritage that I am extremely proud to have. Her mother was the first woman in our family to go to college. And Grandma is not much different. She is constantly reading and learning and knows much more about politics and current events than I will ever know. I love that about her.
I’ve inherited my best and worst traits from her. The worst being my tendency to hoard things, the best being my creative inclinations. She is a talented painter who has won contests and awards for as long as I can remember. In an act of extreme generosity, she gave every single one of her grandchildren a painting. She painted three portraits of my favorite cat and had them framed for me. It hangs in my laundry room.
Before she moved, the workshop in the attic of her house was a disaster (as is my own working space), but she created the most beautiful paintings there.
The mess drives the beauty … if she had a motto, that would be it. And I’m adopting it for myself.
Thank you, Grandma Horning, for always seeing the usefulness and beauty in the things, people, and situations around you. I hope my mess always drives the beauty in my life. I love you!