Your response to my recent blog post about grandmothers’ love and wisdom was tremendous. And oh, how I loved hearing all of the special names you have as grandmothers. Thank you. What a gift it is to be a grandmother. Happy Mother’s Day, my friends. 

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 cover
Order your copy of “A Lowcountry Wedding” today, released nationally May 3rd. “A Lowcountry Wedding” is the fourth installment of the 
New York Times nationally bestselling Lowcountry Series, which includes “The Summer Girls,” “The Summer Wind,” and “The Summer’s End.”

Comments (12)

Linda Summerford

Mary Alice, I loved reading this blog. My mind wanders back to my precious Grandma, Elise. She suffered with degenerative arithitis of the spine and was in her wheel chair or rocking chair most of her days. She and I became inseparable after my adoption into the family. I did not like working on the farm because I was worried about leaving her alone. I pulled up my little chair beside her as she read to me and sang with a voice like an angel. I’m working on my own memoir now to pay tribute to her and my wonderful mom. I can hardly wait to read your latest book! A Low Country Wedding! Love the cover! Pray for me to be successful with mine! I love following your success! You are my inspiration!

Linda Summerford

Good to post

Linda Summerford

Thank you

Oh I love this! And we know how fast time went by with our own! I cherish the time with mine!!

Hi Mary . I just picked up one of your books . The beach house . My friend told me about your books . Do you have a list of all of your books?

I find so many paralells in Summer Girls series that mirror my daughter’s , granddaughter’s and my own lives. I live in SE NC just a mile from the ocean where I still work and volunteer with our sea turtle patrol. Didn’t see my granddaughter as much due to her alcoholic father. Now dealing with an alcoholic boyfriend my daughter lives with. Everyone can see the issue but my daughter. My granddaughter, now 15, is themost beautiful human being thanks to the love and guidance of her mom…I still wonder where I failed my daughter since she always picks men who need “fixing”. I’ve loved my “gradma” name, “Naniclaus” – a spur-of-the-moment nod to my late husband who insisted on saying “Santy Claus” instead of “Santa Claus”. The best part is, although my granddaughter is going through a phase of semi-embarrassment over the name, she still calls me that whether we’re shopping in Philly’s Italian market, having our special talks, tearing into gifts or hearing her shout out on Ocean Isle’s beach, “Naniclaus, come in the water!” I’d like to think that mine is a once-in-a-lifetime name…Naniclaus.

Mary Alice Monroe

What a wonderful story behind your special grandmother name. A cherished title!
And I’m so glad you found strong connections to my novel.

Mary Alice Monroe

I’m so glad, Tammy! I hope you enjoy THE BEACH HOUSE. It is a special book!
You can see the complete list of my published work here:

Mary Alice Monroe

Amen! Me too. And when you live far away from your children/grandchildren that sense of fleeting time is highlighted because the grandchildren look different at every visit.

Mary Alice Monroe

Thank you so much, Linda. Thank you for that special story about your grandmother. And I’m glad you’re writing your story. Keep on writing!

Loved hearing you speak at the Poinsett Club in Greenville, SC, Mary Alice. Especially like the message you wrote in your new book about my love for my Clemson Tigers!! We all need to be “All In” when it comes to the Tigers, the Sea Turtles, the Dolphins, and the rest of God’s animals–human, as well as the ones about which you teach us!! Let us know when your BEACH HOUSE is going to be on TV!!! Next time you’re in our area, we’ll try to get all of our Clemson Book Club members to attend!! Blessings, Nancy Bennett

Mary Alice Monroe

Thank you so much, Nancy! We are all ambassadors of our environment. Thank you for being “all in.” And yes, I will keep you posted about THE BEACH HOUSE movie.

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