I was fortunate enough to grow up right down the street from my grandmother, who I have called "Gigi" since I was old enough to talk. Now many of her friends have adopted the new, hip grandma name as well, but my Gigi is the original and best one. Lucky for me, growing up so close to her gave me the opportunity to spend time and learn from her in ways that not everyone is able to do with their grandparent.
(Pa, if you're reading this, don't get too jealous, I haven't forgotten about you, your article is coming).
Grandmothers are supposed to be the older, wiser, version of a mother and Gigi is all that and more. She is the center of the Brita family, beautiful physically and in the mind, the best cook in the New England area, and has helped mold me into the person I am today.
Many people impact our lives in different ways, yet Gigi has taught me more unique tips, tricks, and lessons that can never be replaced or duplicated by another person. I can only hope I give back to my grandkids as much as she has. Whether its comparing college stories in different centuries, listening to my latest rant and crazy life adventures, debating the style of the latest HGTV show we've watched, or being down to get ice cream cones before dinner — I can always count on Gigi.
After thinking long and hard, I've compiled a list of 7 things that I will forever remember and know how to do in my lifetime, because of her.
Now you may think a salad is simple and basic, yet you've probably never tried my Gigi's salad. She makes the dressing in a way that no one else in my family is able to replicate, no matter how many times we try. Gigi can make even the greatest vegetable hater in the world want to eat her salad.
2. My HGTV obsession
When I was little, I'd roll my eyes at the thought of watching an HGTV marathon all night, yet here I am 10 years later bummed out if I miss the latest episode of Fixer Upper. Gigi planted that little HGTV seed in me at a young age and boy am I thankful because that is all I watch now and then when we talk on the phone we can gossip about how we can't believe the California couple went with house #3, instead of #2 because that's the one we would have picked.
3. How to shop for good, quality clothes
Growing up a millennial, it was the social norm to buy clothes from cheap clothing stores like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. Gigi always reminds me what a good stitch looks like in an article of clothing and what will last the longest, instead of the $8 shirt I could buy from Forever 21 that might not make it through the wash. I used to giggle at the fact when we shopped together she would turn each clothing item inside out to check the stitching, yet now I catch myself doing the same thing. Thank you, Gigi, for teaching me how to pick out modest, stylish, and quality clothing.
4. Table manners
And not just minding your manners while at the dinner table, Gigi had me practicing to set the table when I was 5 and 6 years old. I've always known how to fold the napkins and what side the fork and knife go on thanks to her.
5. Her green thumb is like no other
Have you seen this lady's gardens?! Her entire yard looks like it came out of a Home and Garden magazine, not to mention she has all of Key West's Garden club looking fabulous in the winter months. If I'm ever unsure of the name of a flower, shrub, tree, or anything that grows from the ground for that matter, Gigi can name it off in seconds.
6. She keeps my Grandpa's stomach happy
Not just his stomach happy, but anybody who is lucky enough to be a recipient of her meals. I mentioned before about her being a good cook, well that's an understatement. Homemade sauce, meatballs, roasts, salads- you name it and she will have your mouth watering. This is especially convenient as she is married to my grandfather, who gets the privilege of enjoying all of her phenomenal cooking. Every night, you can guarantee there's a homemade meal on the table. My love and appreciation for food definitely came from their side of the family.
7. She's always in the know
Keeping track of an extended family including children, in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is no easy task, yet Gigi does it better than any other grandma I know. We all live states apart and live incredibly busy lives, yet Gigi truly cares and makes sure to keep up to date tabs on everyone under her in the family tree; and ALWAYS answers the phone if you call (she's even become text savvy after a few iPhone lessons — go, Gigi!).
I know I don't say it enough, but thank you, Gigi. You are the heart of our family and have truly made an impact on my life. Some things you just can't learn from anyone but a grandmother!