But no more.
Now I’m positively average.
I laughed when Grandma said it, because I knew she meant well and she said it with such sincerity and earnestness. It came about when I heard the news that certiorari had been granted on one of my cases and I was going to be arguing my first case before the Supreme Court of my home state.
I was excited and shared the news with Gramms (as I called her) at our regular weekly dinner date. That’s when she beamed with pride and uttered those utterly preposterous words: “Oh Jacob, and I always thought of you as the mediocre child.”
It was classic Gramms. She also once told me: “Well, you’re smart in your own way.” Which again was said with complete sincerity and good intention as a compliment, even though as spoken it came out sounding more like: Oh honey, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see you and you have both your shoes on the right feet.
Gramms uncorked that gem when my sister Rachel was getting her master’s degree in computer science, a degree which was but a way station on the road to an eventual PhD. As the date for conferral of the master’s degree approached, Gramms gushed constantly about the august academic heights to which Rachel had attained.
After weeks of hearing Gramms breathlessly intone the words Master’s Degree with reverential awe I finally pointed out that while it certainly was a great accomplishment, it still sat rather comfortably alongside the many other degrees roosting in the family tree, which already included eight college degrees, an MBA, a master’s degree in chemistry, a master’s degree in biology, and a PhD in chemistry. “And,” I added, foolishly inserting a point of direct comparison, “I have a JD.”
Gramms leaned forward and patted my arm reassuringly and said, “Oh Honey, your education is adequate.”
“Gramms,” I asked, laughing again, “do you think Rachel is smarter than me?”
Which is when Gramms delivered her immortal line: “Well, you’re smart in your own way.”
Only Gramms! We had a lot of fun together, and we knew each other well enough to know what the other meant, and to be able to laugh together those times when, perhaps, the words didn’t come out quite as intended.
We were real friends.
A friendship which was all due to my Mom.
After law school and a stint as a clerk to a court of appeals judge, I moved to take my first job in private practice in a town about a half-hour away from where Gramms lived. After a week or so of getting settled into my new apartment, Mom called me and said: “It would be nice if you went over to have dinner with your grandma.”
“Well,” I equivocated, “I’m really busy …”
To which Mom responded with a firmer tone: “Jacob, it would be nice if you went over to have dinner with your grandma.”
She thereby dispelled the misapprehension under which I had initially labored that her statement was merely a suggestion. In fact, as it turned out, it was a command. So I answered as I advise every good son to do: “OK, Mom.”
And then I went over and had dinner with Gramms.
I’m glad I did.
That first dinner started ten years of weekly dinner dates during which Gramms and I shared many meals and many laughs, many prayers and many stories, and a lot of good times. My life is much richer for those evenings spent together and for having gotten to know my grandma as a real person and a real friend. Gramms left us ten years ago, and I still miss her.
The funny thing is, when my Mom first asked (told) me to go have dinner with Gramms, I thought I was the one doing a favor. Turns out it was the other way around.
I’m glad I listened to Mom and accepted the gift she was giving me, even though I didn’t recognize it as a gift at the time. Scripture tells us to “forsake not your Mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 6:20). Moms have been around longer than we have, and just maybe they can see a little further down the road lying ahead of us than we can ourselves. And Moms love us and always want what is best for us. Sometimes we just need to be open to letting them help us.
So to all of our Moms and Grandmas on this Mother’s Day weekend, thank you for all the blessings you share with us, and have a Happy Mother’s Day!
Copyright 2019 Jake Frost