My grandma lived through ‘unprecedented’: This is what I would ask her


My grandmother’s generation is commonly called The Greatest Generation. They, too, faced “unprecedented” crisis in this country — more than once.

Their formative years happened during the Great Depression, when their parents taught them to conserve everything and waste nothing.

Their young adult years happened during World War II, when the government asked them to sacrifice pleasures, liberties and even their lives for the sake of the common good. Rationing of food, metal, rubber and other essential everyday supplies was an accepted part of their existence, as was widespread loss of the nation’s fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins.

Their generation willingly suspended their rights so that the country would be stronger as a whole.

Grandma Marie, 1939; just as World War II was breaking out in Europe.

They understood how to think beyond themselves and unify in the fight against a common enemy.

They did so with faith, grace, decisiveness and perseverance. We, the younger generations, stand on their shoulders. We enjoy comparatively greater prosperity and safety because of what they did for this country.

I have been thinking about my grandmother a lot recently. She passed away in 2008, and oh how I wish she were still alive to talk to.

The COVID-19 pandemic is my generation’s Unprecedented. Our nation faces an enemy unlike anything anyone has ever seen, and I long for Grandma’s insight and wisdom now more than ever.

Grandma as a young mother, 1957 (my dad is the little dude in front).

As a young mother myself, I have pressing questions, fears and concerns. Sometimes they feel enormous. Sometimes I feel helpless to it all.

Much of what is on my heart I know she would be able to relate to.

Oh, how I wish I could still talk to her.

If I could, I would ask her:

  • What recipes did you rely on when certain foods were unavailable?
  • How did you supplement for your family when supplies were limited?
  • How did you ensure the children knew joy and love in the middle of crisis?
  • How did you take care of yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually?
  • What did you learn about God during those hard times?

I would ask her so many things.

I would sit at her feet and let her stories speak into my circumstances and influence how I give of myself and rely on my faith in the unprecedented.

One of the last pictures I have of us together, 2005.

As I think about Grandma and those stories left untold, I have a greater desire to learn from those who came before.

I desire for my generation to look not only to the experts for advice but also to those life-experienced everyday people from previous generations — those who have seen unprecedented before and have valuable insight to share.

I suspect a gift greater than anything we could think or imagine awaits us if we do.


Their stories matter to us all

Friends, let’s use this quarantine time to learn from those who hold untold stories. They are just as lonely as we are, after all. Let’s call on them to help teach our generation to navigate these uncharted waters.

Download 45 Questions to Ask Those Who Came Before to help you glean stories that will inspire, teach and edify.







One thought on “My grandma lived through ‘unprecedented’: This is what I would ask her

  1. Great post, Sara. I have also been thinking about that great generation and also the one before it – those who sacrificed everything to come to America. But I also believe the millennials will become great as they are beginning to show us their creativity, devising new websites to help others and being willing to take care of the older generation. This gives me hope.


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