A Special Gift for Grandma

I’m taking a bloggy break this week to enjoy the holidays with my family.  But I thought it might be fun to re-publish some of my older posts.  Happy day friends.

I was raised by my Grandma as a kid.

My Avó.

(P.S. that’s Portuguese for grandma.)

And my Avó carries, without a doubt, the most precious place in my heart.

She can buy me the most hideous thing in the world, and not only will I not ever consider returning it…but I’ll actually use it.

Because Avó got it for me.

And just looking at whatever crazy doily/glittery/silk flowered thing it is…makes me sigh with happiness.

Because Avó got it for me.

I can’t even *think* about what life will be like when she dies.

I’m fully tearing up right now just thinking about it.


I need to stop thinking about it.

Okay.  Breathe.

Because even at 30 years old, I can crawl up into her bed and we can giggle and talk…just like we did when I was 5.

And it’s not weird at all that I’m a grown woman.

One of the sweetest feelings ever is me in my spot on her bed…with my three kids…her three great-grandchildren…also on the bed.

All five of us hanging out and laughing.

Chatting about being a mom.  Laughing at Lucy.  Cooing at Jill.  Answering questions for Henry.

Full circle.

I can’t describe how happy it makes me that my kids can have a piece of Avó too.

I just love her.  If you can’t tell.

Last March my grandpa died.

Avó’s one and only.


They had dated since she was 13.

Dating defined as “he would come over and stand on the other side of the fence and we would talk.  And sometimes his hand would touch mine, and it was like electricity in my body.”

Electrical touches, 4 kids, 5 grandkids, and 3 great-grandchildren (and counting) later.

49 years of marriage.

When he died, I know he took with him a piece of her  heart.

A heart so big, it must hardly fit inside her chest.

And while she has certainly taken it all in stride, I know she still aches inside.  And she’s never been the same since.

Because if there is anything I inherited from Avó, it is feeling things…feeling so deeply it hurts.

And I cannot imagine her pain.

So this Christmas I wanted to do something special.  Because anything found at Walmart didn’t seem right.

I enlisted the help of my mom…telling Avó that they were collecting men’s shirts for Veteran’s Day to give to homeless vets, and maybe she could donate some of grandpa’s old shirts?

Except the shirts came to my house instead.

Dusted off my machine.  Literally.

And I cut them up.

And sewed them back together.

Cutting a piece of fabric has never been so terrifying.

Because if I cut wrong, I couldn’t exactly run back out to Joann’s for more.

I have never been so careful in my cutting, measuring and sewing.

I pinned like I had never pinned before.

I took seams out and re-did them.  Until it was just right.

I arranged patterns, re-arranged and lined up.

And when I was done, I cried.

Because I forgot how much I missed him too.

I purposely cut sections that had stains on them.  Because those stains meant a full life.  A life that wasn’t perfect or filled with riches.  But a life lived.

And something tells me that Avó probably knows exactly how each of those stains got there.

I included the strip of buttons…buttons that had been threaded into their little matching hole countless times.

Because a side note about my grandpa is that he was famously…frugal.  Those shirts were older than me.

In fact, when my sister put together a slideshow for his funeral, we all burst into teary laughter because there he was in his purple shirt holding one of HIS kids as babies…

…and in that same purple shirt holding one of MY kids…40+ years later.

Some of the shirts were worn so thin my thread pulled right through. And I had to re-sew it about five times, further and further back until it held.

But it was worth every minute.  Every rise in blood pressure.  Every drop of nervous sweat.

And I hope it blesses her.

I hope she knows how much I love her.

I seriously don’t tell her often enough.  I need to get on that.


I made my Avo these pillows in 2010.  When family visited from Canada last summer, the very first thing she showed them, after years of not having seen them…Avo wanted to show off her special pillows.  I’ve noticed that the pillows don’t live on her bed full time.  But they make an appearance whenever it is a special occasion and people will be visiting.  I cannot tell you how much this makes my heart fit to burst.  Gah.


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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    oh my heart is so full with memories your story of your special grandmother.. thank you for sharing.

  2. 2

    That’s pretty precious. I wish I was close with my grandma when she was alive, your relationship seems like an irreplaceable gift. You did a great job with the sewing, it’s one of the most thoughtful ones I’ve seen.