Friday, December 4

Reflections on my grandmother, my #1 Fan

While celebrating Thanksgiving this last weekend, I spared a few moments to remember my grandmother. She would have been 99 years old, and she ran circles around us all, up until the day she had a heart attack and passed away just shy of her 96th birthday.

Grandmother was a stickler for precision in all aspects of her life. Her noontime lunch plans were often thwarted by our habit of being “fashionably late” to everything. She would argue that the proper pronunciation of the color mauve rhymed with “drove.” She would point out the fact that Worcestershire Sauce contains consonants and syllables we lazily ignore. She once recorded the hours of a lightbulb’s life, only to discover it fell hours shy of what the packaging stated (and, yes, that discovery was subsequently followed by a letter to the company, complaining about their false advertising).

I would often flip through her journals, in which she recorded the day’s temperature, barometric pressure, and a listing of her activities. It read far more like a technical manual than a wandering musing of life. Her life as a farmer likely encouraged this rational view of the world. While she enjoyed the spring flowers blooming and might have liked the sound of cows lowing in the field… she was never waxed poetic about it or reflected on the why of life.
She was one of my biggest fans, and, in turn, one of the biggest fans of my children. It is a fact which is more pronounced now that she is gone. In the years preceding her death, her attempts to downsize brought to my attention that she had saved the letters I wrote her through my childhood, from elementary school through college. Unfortunately, my own letters were not filled with any deep reflections about life. They mostly read like an immature girl’s diary. There’s this boy in my Psych 101 class and he’s such a fox! He totally looks like John Stamos in Tiger Beat magazine!

As a young girl. She is the one on the right
with the oh-so-stylish hair bow. No,
I did not get her genes for hair accessories!
Grandmother even saved a story I wrote and illustrated when in middle school. And, no, I will not include a snippet of said story in this blog. Quite the opposite, I was shocked to learn I had not successfully destroyed all evidence of its existence! But, knowing that it meant enough to my Grandmother that she had saved it all these years, I can’t bring myself to throw it away. Hide it someplace where no one can find it, yes. Throw it away? No.

I know if she was still alive, Grandmother would be my biggest cheerleader in this romance-writing endeavor. As much as I miss her, it’s probably for the best she isn’t around to read what I write these days… It’s a far cry from the innocent stories about magical horses I wrote in middle school!

We all need a #1 fan in our life to encourage us to reach our dreams and cheer for us when we do. Because writing—any artistic endeavor, really—is such a personal expression, having someone who will root for us, build us up when we get low, and celebrate with us when we succeed, is essential. I know in my heart that Grandmother was one of those for me. And though I do not lack for cheerleaders, her influence continues even today.

So, who is your #1 fan?


  1. I love this, Ava. I'm sorry your grandmother's not with you anymore, but glad you have such great memories. My husband is the leader of my support team, but I'm not sure who my #1 fan would be. (Even the word "fan" embarrasses me, so I'm not going any further with this. )

  2. The nice thing about being a writer is that we have a whole stadium-full of fans and cheerleaders: our fellow writers and readers!

  3. i love that your grandmother was such a fan! my grandmother's were both very encouraging and supportive, too, and I miss them!

  4. Love this, Ava! Your grandmother sounds like she was very cool. I didn't have the chance to know my paternal grandmother, and my maternal one was...ummmm...kind of a brat. But she and Grandfather took good care of us while my mom was getting her degree. My Aunt Alice was my #1 fan when I was a kid--always teaching and encouraging. Thanks for sharing Grandmother with us!