Looking back on our grandparents lives, we see the courage that they have built over the greatest struggles that are only history to us. Some traveled far and wide to gain freedom, surviving war(s), genocides, oppression, residential schools, factories. They are survivors. My grandmother, lived her life like many of us do. She thrived, she willed herself to keep moving and took each day for what it was with a smile on her face. She has generated more love and compassion than any one person I have ever met; there is not a man, woman, child or animal that she won’t take the time to know. Her impact on my life, on the lives of the rest of my family and those she encounters, will stand the test of time.
If I were to save any moment in time, past and present and what is to come, from my life with my grandmother it would be simple. Coming home to see her, eyes soft and hands working, humming to some classic country song. The house smelling of vanilla and cinnamon sugar. Her hands kneading dough that will turn into the best cinnamon buns you will ever taste.
For some, a grandmother is someone who is there to give you comfort and support. Someone who has an endless supply of all the good stuff in the pantry and hardly ever says no. Someone who will hold your hand and lift you up. Someone who will kiss your booboos better and the greatest hug-giver. Someone who will counsel you and be your cheerleader. Someone who has the best stories and is a source of inspiration. My grandmother is all of this and so much more. With each grandchild and great-grandchild, she was given a second (and third) chance to be a mother.
Her companionship and pride is something that has prevailed over the course of time. She is the strongest person I have ever met, she overcomes anything set in her way. Nothing could keep her off the dance floor and there are few things that can wipe that golden smile off her face.
My grandmother never taught me not to be scared; she taught me, in her own way (and she probably never realized), that to be vulnerable is to be human and it is okay to feel like that. She is my light and all of my laughter, my side-kick, my living Peter Pan. Her free-spirit is all-consuming. She is what drives me forward and holds me back. She is my understanding, my kindness, my love. She made a home for each and every one of us. A home that was filled with classic country, singing, laughter, food.
Here are the lessons that my grandmother taught me:
- Keep your mind open to possibilities and never turn something down, you never know what it might lead to.
- Love, and love endlessly. Love until there is nothing left and then keep on going. No matter who you meet, never judge them, you don’t know their situation. Be the person that you want someone to be to you.
- Be happy even when it doesn’t feel like you can. Fake it and just smile. Turn on some music and sing, dance. Use your imagination.
- Classic country songs will always be one of the best cures. The lyrics that play are genuine and honest. The simplicity that was the 50s through to the 90s will be the best.
- Believe in something bigger than yourself, than our family. The world is a great big place and you can’t make it small.
- It is okay to get your hands dirty whether it is in the kitchen or in the garden.
- It is okay to want to play the sports that the boys play. Don’t hold back. If you are better, show them. Show the world.
- Always read. Keeping your mind active will keep it healthy.
- Laugh at yourself.
- Find adventure, find love, find genuine connections. Keep learning. Take an extra cookie.
We only get so many staircases, so many moments that we will go through in life. Don’t quiet yourself to the opportunities that come your way. Don’t quiet yourself from learning something. Stand up and be heard. Listen to your heart. Listen to your grandmother. She is wise. I know mine is and I love her with all of my being.
Now, here’s one of the best songs that I can remember. Thank you grandma for giving me the taste in music that I have, for giving me the gift that is Conway Twitty. I love you.