I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately; I’m the age she was when I was born, when we met. She had a huge influence on my life, and though I didn’t recognize it as a child or teen, she was a great role model. She didn’t have much formal education, she didn’t work outside the home or have her own small business and she wasn’t an artist. But she raised two families, her own two children, and then my sister and me when my mom (her daughter) and dad decided to move their family in with her.
She never preached or told us what to do, but she set an example that is still with me today, and guides my daily activities.
1. Get Up Early
She got up early each day and had some time to herself, to read something inspirational and perhaps meditate. By the time she woke us up for school, she was ready to begin her work for the day, and she made us anything we wanted for breakfast.
2. Live in the Present
I never knew her to complain or dwell on the past, even after her husband died. She was a person who truly lived in the moment.
3. Be Thankful for What You Have
Just as she didn’t dwell on the past, she didn’t yearn for some unattainable future or tons of possessions. She was grateful for simple things like having a home and food to eat, her family near her, and special occasions to share with them.
4. Family is Important
She came from a large family, and kept in touch with her siblings, especially her sisters. She and her sister Lilian talked each night before going to bed to get the news of the day. She always took the time to talk to us and spend time with us.
5. Persevere and Work Hard
She worked each day on the daily chores according to her own daily, weekly and seasonal schedule. She kept things running smoothly, and gave us a clean orderly home. She never took a sick day, never shirked, never faltered.
6. Allow Yourself a Break
Although she worked hard, she allowed herself a short break each afternoon to watch her favorite soap opera, and perhaps take a snooze. But then, she was back at work!
7. Bake Cakes Often
We always had homemade cakes. She would bake one for every occasion, and even if there was no occasion at all. Wednesday was trash collection day and my cousin joked that cakes baked on that day were ‘trash day cakes’, for lack of a better event.
8. Help Others Whenever You Can
She was helpful to neighbors, gave money to the church, and couldn’t resist feeding stray animals. Her kindness went a long way.
9. Stay Active
My grandmother couldn’t drive, so she went everywhere on foot; walking was her main form of exercise. She also did yard work and generally was on her feet and active all day long.
10. Make Do and Mend
I suppose everyone who lived through the Depression and World War II learned to repair things because of the circumstances, but I wonder why so many people who had grandmothers who mended everything became adults who embrace the throwaway society. I’m glad we’re moving back towards a society in which people appreciate the value of handmade, and want their possessions to last.