I come from a long line of people who defy their life expectancy. Some who live to be almost 100 and are still pretty good at remembering things (most days) and even on their bad days are an absolute treasure, just because they’re alive. My grandmother lived to be 98 and that meant I had her in my life for 40 years! We spent a lot of time together all throughout my life and I learned and adopted her quiet ways. I didn’t realize how much I was like her and how much I had learned from her until she was gone. I hope she knows…and I suspect she does…how grateful I am for these lessons.
“A strong work ethic gives your life purpose.”
My grandmother was always moving. Like many women of her era, she cooked three meals a day, kept her house organized and cozy, grew the most beautiful flowers and plants, canned and put up vegetables and preserves every year, and made sure everyone around her had what they needed. She also worked at Belks department store for many years. She was busy all the time, but I never once heard her complain. In fact, just the opposite…even though she was reserved and somewhat guarded, she seemed to enjoy the work she did at home and her work at the store. She seemed fulfilled and content and not like someone who was searching for something more, something different, or better. What I learned from watching her was to be thankful for the blessings in your life and the people who surround you. It doesn’t pay always to be wishing for something more than you have.
“The simplest things can bring the greatest joy.”
Now that I’m older this really hits home, as I remember my moments with her in her modest, cozy home and warm inviting kitchen as some of the most special times of my life. Truly simple pleasures and pure joy to be had there when she was doing just about anything.
“Food will always bring family together.”
The spreads my grandmother could put before us while keeping calm, cool, and collected…you wouldn’t believe. And when this spectacular array of culinary choices was laid out like something out of a magazine, she would always say, “I hope there’s something here you can eat.” She didn’t even know how amazing it was. I could never replicate those meals and certainly not without becoming frazzled and asking for all family members to pitch in! I don’t know how she did it. It must have taken days of preparation and planning, knowing when to start everything so it all came up ready at the same time. It was truly an art form. And some of our best family times were around those elaborate meals. Enjoying the food, the conversation and lingering long after the eating was done to listen to the stories being passed down from grandmother and grandfather, uncles, and aunts. The best memories were made around those tables. Cooking was my grandmother’s way of showing love to the people she loved most. In fact, she would make special dishes for me that didn’t have onions in them because she knew how much I didn’t like onions. There would be one dish for me and one for everyone else! She was showing me her love. From these times, I learned to cook big meals for my family (albeit on a smaller scale) and I learned that making and serving my family food is a love language I understand, just like my granny did. Because, like her, nothing makes me happier than filling my loved ones’ bellies and lingering around the table in telling stories.
“Humility is powerful”
Through her own humility, my grandmother was a wonderful role model for showing love and compassion and how to serve others graciously. People were drawn to her because of her humble way of being in the world. She never raised her voice…not that I ever heard. She spoke softly, but her words were heard, because we wanted to know what she said. She was always a good listener. She focused on you as if you were the only person who mattered in the world. She took care of those she loved without expecting acknowledgement (though she did get lots of it). Her reward was in the satisfaction she got from making others happy. All these things made me want to be like her; and I strive to live in a way that I know would please her.
She was a trusted, comforting force in our lives. Her actions spoke louder than her words and she lived out the truest description of love….
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8