The stunning woman in this ridiculously gorgeous handmade wedding gown is my grandma.
She's also one of my favorite people in the entire universe, for good reason.
Today is the day she turns 90 years old.
So many people say that they have the best grandma ever, and I'm glad that they do. It means that they know what a treasure it is to have their grandma around and in their lives. So maybe instead of insisting "There can be only one" all Highlander style, we can agree that "best" is a title of honor which can be attained by a certain caliber of person.
She is certainly someone to be admired. Grandma grew up in Polish Chicago. She played on the green grass in Humboldt Park, wandered to Wicker Park for shopping, and took in shows at the local theaters, now long gone. She met someone, and fell in love.
She became a mother to four, three wonderful daughters and one great son. Sadly, she lost her husband when she was still young. So, now a single mom, she worked at a factory, learned to drive, and continued to be an amazing mother.
Family is so important to her. As our family has grown generation by generation, she has welcomed each new member with the same love.
When my mother lost her own husband at a very early age, leaving her a single mom to an infant, my grandma was there. Her children were there. I grew up without a dad, but my life was so full of family- aunts and uncles and cousins who I knew I could count on and who loved me, and still do. My mom could count on my grandma to watch me whenever she could so that she could work or take a well deserved break. I was *always* at Grandma's house, and I always loved Grandma's house.
Grandma played baseball with me, taught me to crochet, took walks with me and cooked with me. She was proud of me when I ate the vegetables other kids pushed aside. She put my school pictures in her wallet and my coloring pages from Cub Foods on the refrigerator. She signs every birthday card "I love you" just in case there was any doubt.
Grandma has literally and figuratively held my hand through my whole life. She's taught me to pick up and save my pennies. She taught me to look at the clouds and imagine what shapes they make. She taught me how to grow things, and stop and smell the roses. She's been there for breakups and hard times, and she's reminded me to have patience for people when they're going through hard times, as well. She reminded me that real love shows through even the darkest of situations if you will just be patient and look for it, and it's a lesson that's led to a lot of happiness for me, and a lot more understanding. She is amazingly kind and thoughtful, and adds to her prayer list like some people add to their grocery list. She always hugs my boyfriend, and when he's going through something hard, tells him she's praying for him.
She also makes amazing golabki, and has taught me that and so many other recipes that remind me of my heritage. She will feed anyone and everyone who comes through her doors, even if all you have room for is a Tic-Tac.
At 90, she's a vibrant woman still full of humor, energy, wisdom and love.
She is honestly the person I want to be, now and at 90.
Happy Birthday, Grandma.
I love you, too.