31 Days, 31 People
Day 09: GRAYCE

Grayce McBride holding a jumbo-baby Zia Grayce Newberry, 2009.

I’ve been up with a sick kid most of the night and it got me thinking this morning about the different moms in my life. I already made a post about my own mom but when I look back across my life, there were a lot of really amazing moms. So many of them were examples of strong, independent women. Many of them raised their kids without the help of a partner, whether from divorce or their partner passing away. Grayce’s husband had passed away before I started hanging out there.

Grayce is the second name of my second daughter, Zia Grayce. Zia inherited this second name and its spelling from the woman I always considered my second mom. If there was one mom that saw me as much as my own mom did during ages 10–16, it was Greta’s mom Grayce. I never realized at the time what an example of strength and independence she was but holy macaroni, was she.

Grayce always seemed tall to me, then once I hit 5'11"-ish she seemed tiny and adorable. I think she was probably around 5'7". Grey-haired and svelte, Grayce was a bit older than most of the moms of kids I hung out with. She was in her late 40s-early 50s but, I never kept much track of her actual age. It wasn’t a concern most of the time. I do remember one time in particular, though. I was spending the night at Greta’s house, Grayce would get home around 10pm on Friday nights. For a minute, we thought it would be hilarious if I hid under the bed and grabbed her leg when she got home. But then we imagined she might have a heart attack so we aborted mission on that one.

Grayce worked as a waitress in the one restaurant in our town. I started washing dishes at that same restaurant when I was twelve. By the time I was old enough to waitress (or work legally, shhhh!) I felt like I had really learned from the best. I remember how the people really liked her. She was super fast, friendly, sassy, ridiculously efficient but what really made Grace awesome was how she connected with the people she served. She learned their stories, she listened; she knew them. She remembered them if they came back and could greet them by name. Learning the value of that human connection by watching it in action is something I still aspire to accomplish as well as Grayce did.

I have so many memories of Grayce, not just work ones. I’m grateful that Grayce was such a huge part of my growing up, that I got to learn from her. I’m grateful I got to introduce both of my daughters to her and let her know Zia Grayce was named after her. I remember her smile when I told her that.

I’m grateful I got to see her just a couple short weeks before she passed away and to tell her in person that I love her.

READ DAY 10→

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