Living With My Grandma


It was the spring semester of my freshman year in college. Not only was I still completely homesick, but I had spiked a fever that afternoon. My vile roommate decided to throw a party in our room as I hid in my bed, and I had this realization…Why am I still here? I grabbed my room phone. Yes, it was a landline. I only knew one person with a cell phone 20 years ago, and it was, ironically, my roommate. 

When I dialed the phone, I called the first person who could rescue me, and that was my grandmother.

I grew up anywhere between 4-8 hours away from my maternal grandma, depending on whatever state my dad’s job had us living in. I’m the sixth born in a line of her now 28 grandchildren and over 20 great-grandchildren.

Even though I didn’t grow up near her, I was always excited to visit when we made the trek down to Connecticut from Maine or New Hampshire in our old Subaru. My grandparents moved into that little Cape Cod-style home when my mom was just 7 years old, and I’m not sure how much has changed (besides the kitchen carpentry which my grandpa built from scratch) in the over 50 years since they have lived there.

That cold winter night that I called my grandma in tears to come pick me up from school is still so vivid in my mind over 20 years later. When she got to my dorm, I went outside to meet her in just a t-shirt and stretch pants. The cold winter air felt amazing on my fever-laden skin. I packed a bag as quickly as I could, grunted a “bye” to my roommate, and left for a weekend at my grandparents’ house where I could recover from whatever virus I had (although I may just have been allergic to my roommate!). I did my laundry and laid on my grandparents’ waterbed, watching the little TV in the bedroom and listening to all of the stories my grandma had to tell me.

This was the first weekend of what became a tradition for us. Every other Friday for the rest of my freshman year, my grandma would drive the 20 minutes from her home to my dorm, pick me (and my piles of laundry), and bring me to her house for the weekend.

We would sit and chat for hours into the night, and I learned how she used to be a writer, too, getting up in the middle of the night to write on her typewriter when she couldn’t sleep. She told me about how she met my grandfather and didn’t like him very much at first. She told me all about her family and how they emigrated from Slovakia. I learned about how she wanted to go to college, the stories of her early life married to my grandfather, and all the antics her seven children got into (my mom was the third born). Sometimes I wish I wrote down or recorded some of those conversations because I would love to go back and hear how all of those stories sounded at that time of my life again.

My grandma was very involved in my life during college and beyond.

She and my grandpa came to my concerts and plays (even though my grandpa couldn’t hear them!). I even had this assignment for my New Religions course to attend a service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was nervous about going alone, and she volunteered to go with me. It takes a woman with a very strong sense of her own faith to sit with her granddaughter at a school-required Mormon church service. Even though I don’t share her faith, I respect her dedication to it.

After my junior year of college, I had an internship as the assistant stage manager for the 2003 season of the Summer Cabaret at Yale. My grandparents invited me to stay with them for the summer. What a trip and a half that was…for them, not for me.

Like the stereotypical “good girl,” they really had nothing to worry about, but I got the whole “no boys upstairs” talk. I couldn’t help but chuckle…there were no boys to worry about, believe me!

I generally worked from about 7 a.m. to midnight at the theatre, and my grandma had difficulty getting used to my schedule. She wanted me to call if I would be “late,” but I was always late. I didn’t always call. I was working on 4 plays in a period of 2 months. When I went out line dancing with my friends, I always came home smelling like smoke because it was still legal to smoke in bars back then (wow, I’m dating myself again!). So even though I didn’t smoke, my clothes sure did. I did a lot of laundry at midnight that summer.

As my senior year approached, my full scholarship qualifications changed, and I could no longer afford room and board. My grandparents said they would love to have me stay, and I ended up living there for a full year.

I finally moved out of my grandparents’ house in 2005 and into an apartment with one of my best friends in northern Fairfield County. It was a little sad, but I was also totally ready to be out on my own. I didn’t really realize then just how lucky I was to have the time with them. I wasn’t home much, but when I was, I got to help my grandpa figure out his new computer and help my grandma bring things up from the basement.

I will never forget the year I spent living with my grandparents. They both mean so much to me. My grandma said the prayer at my wedding reception. She’s one of the strongest people I know.

I will always cherish the many wonderful stories my grandma told me at her kitchen table.

Today, January 21, 2021, is my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I’m not sure if I’ll get to see her and my grandpa (who just turned 92!) in person today, but I hope to one day soon. Happy birthday, Grandma!

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Charity is a newly-single mom of three with a son born in 2012 and identical twin daughters born in 2017. She lives in Monroe and has been writing for Fairfield County Mom since 2019. Charity is a full-time speech-language pathologist, working with patients all across the lifespan. She is also an intuitive medium. In her life before children, Charity was a professional stage manager, working in theatres throughout Fairfield County. Charity is passionate about her family, career, ballet (which she began at 39 years old!), musical theatre, and her amazingly-supportive friends as she begins a new chapter in her life. She firmly believes that you are never too old to stay stuck in a situation that is causing you pain. You can follow her on Instagram at @charityferris.


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