Worn Out Gifts: A Talk WIth My Grandmother pt. 1

The Guest Columnist At Work


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Gtn.blgvoß Words from our guest columnist, Ms. Cydney

After I dropped my nephew off to school yesterday morning, I decided to stop by my grandmother’s in Queens.  My grandmother is a very interesting person.  She was an engineer at the Brooklyn Naval Yard in the 1950’s until their closing which makes her a pioneer in her field.  Not only was she an engineer, she has also been featured in Ebony Magazine because she invented some kind of electronic device.  She didn’t go on to be some famous pioneering engineer, though.  She chose family.  The Brooklyn Naval Yard closed and moved its operations to San Diego.  As opposed to going with the job, she stayed in New York because my grandfather was established and my young father was happy here.  In Hollis, Queens she is a local legend.  She may not be as big as Run DMC is but more than likely if you’re in your late thirties to early fifties she probably was your math teacher.  Everywhere we went growing up everyone knew her walking down the street and would say “Hello, Mrs. Milner!” with a smile and she’d get things like bread for free from the store.

She’s eighty-five now and she doesn’t walk around the neighborhood as much but to be that age she’s still very healthy.  No major sicknesses just arthritis and some senior moments here and there but that’s about it.  She’s still pretty sharp as well as she spends most of the day “keeping her mind together” by watching the Game Show Network. 

She is a very positive person and the most selfless person I know.  All the kids used to call her “Grandma” and she’d give her last and think nothing of it.  She doesn’t take care of herself very well but she will do anything for anyone else.  She always has a big smile and says the same positive and happy things all of the time.

Since she does rattle the same positive one-liners over and over again sometimes my family misses the insightful gems that she says.  Since she wears any gift she’s given until it bursts at the seams she can look a little like a mess.  She always wears this sequined hat my mother bought her from New Orleans about fifteen years ago.  My mother said to her “Is that the same hat I bought you all of those years ago?”  She replied “Yes!  I use the gifts I’m given until they’re worn out!”  That was one of the biggest words I’d ever heard in my life:  Using your gifts until they’re worn out.  While she was just talking about items of clothing she meant much more than that.  It’s her lifestyle.  Her husband has been gone for nine years, her mother who lived until she was ninety-five passed seven, and her sister who she talked    to every day until she passed away two years ago.  She lives a pretty lonely life but is happy.  She’s happy to do any help anyone.  When I ask her how is she doing she just says “Hangin’ tough! I’m just happy to be here.”  She means that.  She is the truest meaning of riding until the wheels fall off which is something I will try to adopt.  Not in the sense of just “You only live once so do it up big,” but in the sense of giving everyone who means something to you your all until God says your time of service is up.

Mind you, this is not what I meant to write about but it just happened that way.  I will have to continue at another time.


Llll<srk                                                            fjg                             (Some editing from Cydney)

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