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Mary Alice Monroe

New York Times Bestselling Author

A Grandmother's Love and Wisdom

I’m proud to be their ‘Mambo’

There are so many creative, fun names for “grandmother” these days! How fortunate we all are to be grandmothers, eh? I asked my readers to tell me their grandmother’s name. I will choose one for a character in a future book. I’m both thrilled and humbled by the amazing response! This struck a chord and gave me pause for thought. I loved reading the love between the lines in your messages. It was palpable; both love for your grandchildren and love for your own grandmothers. I believe being a grandmother is our reward for hanging in there during all the ups and downs of childrearing. Being called Grandma, Mimi, Honey, Gigi, Nana, Big Mama or whatever your moniker might be is akin to wearing a badge of honor!

 

During the writing of The Lowcountry Series* I created the character Mamaw. She is the matriarch of the Muir family. A widow who, at eighty years of age, must make tough financial and personal choices. This series was a personal journey for me because I became a grandmother four times over during the research and writing of the books. With Mamaw, in those five plus years I have grown in understanding of the breadth of a grandmother’s role. And more, I can share my insights through Mamaw’s words. Mamaw may not have been the best mother to her son. In modern parlance, she was an enabler. Yet she sees her time with his daughters –her granddaughters– as her second chance. Not to be the “fun grandma,” (though who doesn’t want to be that?) It’s so easy to give a gift, to make life easier with money, to be there for the good times. But rather, Mamaw has come to understand that this time around she will provide the tough tough love her granddaughters need. She will provide safe haven. She watches them. Pays attention…. Then she guides them– not to do what she wants them to do, but rather, to find their own voice and purpose. At no time does a woman need her grandmother’s advice more than at her wedding. It was especially poignant for me to offer Mamaw’s insights to her granddaughters in A Lowcountry Wedding.

I remember my mother once telling me as I was madly vacuuming and cleaning my house, “Don’t worry so much about how clean your house is! You won’t remember if your house was clean. You won’t even remember your address. But you will remember time spent with your children. And you will regret time lost.”

mama and her three

My three little loves!

At the time I thought she was being melodramatic. I was so busy cleaning, cooking, driving carpool, helping with homework, and in between all that writing a novel. Play? Who had time to play? Now all these years later, as a grandmother, I see at last—too late—how wise my mother was. I would give anything to have my children as youngsters again. If only for a day. Just to squeeze them tight. To smell their necks. To kiss their cheeks and tell them how much I love them. To observe how they reveal themselves in small, seemingly inconsequential gestures and statements that too often go by unnoticed.

 

But I do have my grandchildren. I admit I want to be the “fun” grandma. When I fly in to see them they all come running to greet me with hugs and kisses and cries of “What did you bring me?” The little pirates have stolen my heart. But Mamaw’s insights have taught me to do more than merely hand out gifts. I try to watch and observe. To play the games of their choosing. To take “alone time” with a single child and listen to what they have to say. I hope as the years go by I can be like the character I created and help each child find his or her strength. His or her voice. To see each child’s strengths. And weaknesses. My grandchildren are still so young. The eldest is but eight years old. But already they offer me a window into their personalities. They offer hints of who they can grow up to be if allowed to follow their own dreams.

Through the writing of this series I’ve learned so much about the power and importance of a grandmother’s love. We are older, yes, but wiser! We have more time and we can make choices how to spend it. Each of us has our own story. Our children and grandchildren have their own needs and wants. Strengths and weaknesses. We can help shape their individual stories. And think, we will be the grandmother character—the Mamaw, Mambo, Mimi, Gigi, Nana or whatever name you are blessed with– in their stories!

 

A Lowcountry Wedding front coverPre-order your copy of “A Lowcountry Wedding” today and enter my Lowcountry Wedding Pre-Order Contest on Facebook Basic RGB for a chance to win fantastic prizes, including the GRAND PRIZE: $4000 romantic getaway to the beautiful Firefly Sunset Resort in the Abaco, Bahamas! Grand prize winner announced May 3rd on facebook page!

 

*The Lowcountry Series: The Summer Girls; The Summer Wind; The Summer’s EndA Lowcountry Wedding (May 3, 2016); A Lowcountry Christmas (October 2016).

15 Comments

  1. Michele Grant on April 19, 2016 at 10:31 am

    How true and sad that as our children are young and growing we don’t take the time to really appreciate this time in their lives. We are so busy we forget to stop and just be together. All is not lost though because grandchildren are our reward. So happy I now rally appreciate the time with my children and grandson.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on April 19, 2016 at 11:51 am

      How blessed we are, Michele, to have this with young ones again.

  2. Donna D Jones on April 19, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Beautiful words for me to tuck away for when I can proudly add “grandmother” to my life’s resume. As a city girl from Atlanta I delighted in spending two weeks with my grandma Brooks on her Hanceville, AL, farm each summer. We had amazing conversations among the rows of corn and peas. I could only reach the low growers on the corn stalks as she reached above me clad with her sheer overshirt, bonnet and patchwork apron. I loved getting to wear her straw hats and “sunscreen” shirts — all way too big on my 9-year-old self. In the evenings we would sit around the bushel of beans and laugh about having our own, personal “pea party” as we shelled butter beans and purple hulls to “put up” for the winter. She has always been my life’s litmus test as I would ask “would Grandma Brooks be proud of me” when faced at a crossroad. Thank you for bringing your Mawmaw to life in the stories woven throughout this trilogy. Blessings my dear. Donna Jones (the Philly girl you met in Marietta along with my mom, Charlotte)

  3. Mary Houser on April 19, 2016 at 11:13 am

    I loved reading them all too. Being a Nana and now a Great-Nana has been the MOST wonderful times of my life.

  4. Hollie on April 19, 2016 at 11:51 am

    It is my belief that my grandchildren are my reward for getting through the teenage years. I call them “The adorables”, and they have stolen my heart and taken my breath away with their sweet innocence. I am so blessed to have this time with them. They make my life fuller and just enjoy their precious hugs and love.

  5. Stephanie Ray Brown on April 19, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Oh my truly in tears! My mother just left after delivering and planting several flowers that belonged to my great great Grandmother that was called Mammy. Did anyone suggest that one for your book? ???? Mothers and Grandmothers are so very special. This series will always have special place in my heart. I had recently moved back to my hometown after thirty years to spend more time with my
    Marvelous mess of a mom. So blessed to get to do this. But even though my head had known for seven years my Granny had passed away, my heart hurt deeply when returning back home as she was not here. Oh how I wanted to sit with her on front porch again. Your character Mamaw helped fill that huge hole in
    My heart as I read on the porch alone. Forever grateful for you sharing Mamaw with me when I need a grandmother the most. Bless you always MAM!

  6. Jenny Belk on April 19, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I am a stepmother so my daughters’ babies named me New Granny as they had 2 others. I thought it was adorable.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on April 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      That is a special title!

  7. Bonnie Grossman on April 19, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    I love the thought of being able “to smell their necks again.” What a special image.

    Thanks to the combination of my and Ken’s children (my bonus children), I now have 8 grandchildren. Four live in South Carolina (Chapin and Greenville), two in Chicago, and two in Sweden. That makes me an international grandmother. I recently completely the 2016 Grandmother’s World Tour.

    My unique grandma name is “Hot Bonnie.”

    • Mary Alice Monroe on April 22, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Hey “Hot Bonnie!” That’s a good one! It’s so great to hear from you. I have to have a few more grands to catch up with you! xoxoxo

  8. Marjorie Roberts on April 26, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    I love being a grandma and enjoy every precious moment I am with them. Rachel, at nine, is very open to guidance, learning, and grabbing onto everything we do together. She loves to read and we will read side by side, or the same book together. She loves to write and illustrate her own chapter books. I help her with her piano lessons. Megan, at five, learns a lot from Rachel. She has helped Megan learn to read, and her own drawings are wonderful. There is nothing like being a grandma. As to our daughter, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with her and work part time at home, mostly in the evenings when her dad got home from work. When she started Kindergarten, and since it was a full day, I went to my job during school hours. I didn’t start working full time until she was midway through second grade. Feeling blessed! By the way, my husband’s grandmother was known as Maw-Maw!

  9. Carol Turner on May 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I also love being a Grandmother. My grandsons are 21 and 14 and I don’t get to see them nearly enough because I lived in NY and they live in North Carolina. They call me “Grandma Carol”. I am making memory books for both of them and hope to have them done soon, as I have only been working on them for 5 years. Mary Alice Monroe is my most favorite author. I have enjoyed giving my friends, my copies of The Beach House series and they have all loved it. I tell everyone I know. I hope when the Beach House is done on the Hallmark channel, that they keep true to the books and not ruin it like so many other authors stories have been. I just finished A Low Country Wedding and didn’t want it ever to end. Can’t wait for the next one out later this year.

    • Mary Alice Monroe on May 17, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Thank you, Carol. The grandchildren are our treasures. And thank you for sharing my books with so many. I cherish your support.

  10. Barb Manuel on July 18, 2016 at 10:34 am

    First of all, seems I am late to this “What do your Grandkids call you?” party,but I just love sharing my Beloved Badge of Honor! I have been baptized with a recognition that I am almost 100% certain no other Grandmother has been given. Borne of the delightful developing thought processes of my daughter’s firstborn, I am, and will always be I pray, “Pops”. That’s right, “Pops”.

    Prior to his birth, Alison and I frequently discussed Who I would become, to Paxton. She tried out the following: Marmee (from our mutual love of “Little Women”, Granna as Nana was already taken (as was Mimi, Grandma and Nonnie), and even revisiting Nana (tall slippers to fill) as Paxton’ s naming of his family began. I always said he would call me what he wanted to, and I would gladly and lovingly become that person in his world.

    My evolution began like this…Alison called my husband, her Stepdad, “Pops”. She would announce to wee Pax that they were going to be visiting “Pops and Granna”. Perhaps it was because I would always be the first to the car upon their arrival, the first face he would see or even that “Pops” was so much easier for him to say, but one day it clicked in his little mind that I was his “Pops”. When his baby blues looked into mine that day and he smiled, raising his arms to me and called out “Pops!”, my fate was sealed. And, I wouldn’t want any other name! Even his two Stepbrothers call me “Pops”. And,of course,his little brother, Will, calls me the same -with the cutest little lisp of the “S” ever!

    Now, you might wonder why he started calling his Dad’s Mom “Zoe”, instead of “Memaw Dee”, as his Stepbrothers did. It has something to do with the fact that one of Dee’ s beagles is named “Zoe”.
    But that’s another story…

    • Mary Alice Monroe on July 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Oh what a sweet story! “Pops”…a name to be cherished!

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