Column: Discovering not-so-official family

‘I call her my adopted grandma, but she’s just as close as my own blood.’


Rachel Blake

"My own grandparents may be several states away, but I can always count on one being just a couple streets away."

Caring is what she specializes in.

Adding new experiences to my life and to anyone’s around her.

Radiating an unmatched charisma is her talent.

Living so close, she’s there whenever I need her.

Exactly perfect the way she is, she does all she can for me.

Nothing is ever too much for her.

Eagerly, she becomes family.

This is what makes my grandma, my adopted grandma, who she is.

Living states away from your extended family can cause a distant relationship. People dread going to see family members during the holidays, but for me, it’s the only time of the year we can visit our aunts, uncles and grandparents.

When family members aren’t physically close to you, it’s easy to pull in any friends of the family as your own. All parents have their friends you jokingly call your aunt or uncle.

My mom’s former coworker is a distinct case.

Working in a company that connects people all over the state, my mom met people outside of Texas and even became close friends with some of them. In 1999, a woman named Carlene Craft started traveling from Atlanta to the building my mom had recently started working in to teach classes. Carlene was barely in her 50’s and wasn’t even close to slowing down her pace. She and my mom clicked instantly; Carlene became a close family friend.

She quickly became an important person in my life. I don’t ever remember not calling her grandma. Memories of her go back as far as elementary school. She’s been in my life as long as I’ve been alive. After she retired, she spent all her excess time with my sisters and me.

I call her my adopted grandma, but she’s as close as my own blood. She relishes in the idea of having grandchildren, but never married or had kids of her own. Though she always drowns my family in gifts and never asks for anything from us, we always give back the same energy we receive from her. From simple and cheesy card-making tools to a not-so-official adoption certificate we printed off at home, we try to spoil her as much as she does us.

Normally, I see her once a week. She always saves room in her busy schedule for my siblings and me. Once a week we go out for coffee after school, paid by her. I look forward to this all day or even all week. It’s nice to catch up with her and listen to the advice and stories she tells. 

During the summers, we compile a list of all the activities we want to accomplish while school is out. Even though we never make it through all the ideas, I still have fun exploring different topics and making close bonds with not only her but my sisters as well. From exploring genealogy to making our own ice cream flavors, I’ve never left her house without something new.

This makes for an even closer relationship I have with my ‘Texas Grandma,’ as I call her. She tells me about her days in the ’70s, moving around everywhere with just her mother and even the time she spent living in England.

My own grandparents may be several states away, but I can always count on one being just a couple of streets away.