The headline for this probably sounds weird to you, but it's true. I consider my grandmother to be one of my very best friends. We've been close for as long as I can remember and I can't imagine being anything close to who I am today without her guidance and support.
"Mamaw," as we call her, or "MJ" (short for "Mamaw Jo") has been a huge influence in my life since I was small. I spent countless hours at her house eating home-cooked food, making birthday cakes for stuffed animals, and learning how to be who I am today.
Together with my grandfather, "Papaw," she showed me the proper way to make biscuits and gravy and how to play cards. The two of them made sure that each one of their seven children, almost twenty grandchildren, and now close to ten great-grandchildren knew nothing but kindness and unconditional love from them.
Fast forwarding now to my college years and I begin to find this entire new respect for M.J.
We'd always been close, but over the course of the three semesters I'd been in college, I had been learning more and more of her story and of my family history. She did all of those things for us when we were little, but her life before that blows me away sometimes. She had to stop going to school after sixth grade to help take care of her large family, yet she still held a full-time job after her kids went to school to help out with income.
She took care of her husband, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with little to no complaining, even when money was really tight or when one of us was being a brat.
She has spent her entire life meeting every challenge and every person with nothing but kindness, patience, and love.
I discovered that she truly is one of my best friends over winter break; I spend quite a bit of break staying with her while she recovered from a fall. During this time, the limited options of things to do in our small town were narrowed even further due to snow, so we spent a lot of time in her house drinking coffee (which, according to her "can fix anything") and reading books, something that we've both always loved to do.
In those quiet winter moments spent sitting by a fire, stories were swapped, laughs were had, and, as corny as it sounds, memories were made. That's when it dawned on me that there was little to no difference between hanging out with Mamaw and hanging out with my friends at school.
Is it weird to think that my grandmother is one of my best friends? Not in the slightest.
Her wisdom and guidance are something that I value deeply. The fact that I've gotten to have this really unique and close relationship with her for my entire life is something that I consider to be a huge blessing not just because of her, but also because I know how rare it is. I'll never be able to truly express how cool and amazing she is as a role model, grandmother, and friend.
Now, to you, MJ, best friend, thank you for being all that you are. I love you "all there is and more too!"