Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons from My Grandmother

My grandmother, Virginia.
My only surviving grandparent just passed away. Her name was Virginia, but her daddy called her Ginger. I call her Grandma, which sounds more like GRAN-mah.

My grandma taught me many things. Here are a few of them:

  • Laugh often.
  • Family is important.
  • Know your roots. Share genealogy with family. Document it for those who don't care right now, but might later.
  • Cook with love. Often. And share hand-written recipes.
  • Be a voracious reader. On many different subjects, especially biographies.
  • Write the names of people on the back of pictures so your kids will know who they are even after you're gone. But use a pen or pencil that won't destroy the picture.
  • Every Southern woman has to have a garden.
  • Plant things in your garden that bloom different times throughout the year. Decorate your house with the flowers.
  • God is love. Pray to Him. ("I love talking to the Lord!" she said.)
  • Handwritten letters can be treasured forever if preserved. Send snail mail often and don't wait for an occasion. 
  • Always write thank you notes. Send them immediately afterwards, so the person knows how grateful you are for what they did for you.
  • Take time to be active. Play tennis, golf, or soccer. Go swimming.
  • Explore: go to the beach, mountains, or NYC. Go with loved ones. 
  • Take pictures of the happy times so they'll take you through the tough times.
  • Quiz your kids and grandkids on the names of your ancestors.
  • Use resources wisely: money, materials, etc.
  • Learn to write, sew, craft, and do artistic stuff.
  • Find a new purpose for what most consider trash. It'll save you money and keep things out of the landfill.
  • Dance often. Take lessons. Do a show on stage. Learn to move with the music.
  • Sing proudly and joyfully. (She always asked me if I'd joined the church choir yet.)
  • Celebrate the holidays as family. And be happy you're together one more time--that can always change unexpectedly.
  • Go to the library. You can read plenty of books for free!
  • Have a pet-friendly home. Teach your kids to respect and care for other living creatures.
  • Spend time in nature. Appreciate and care for the great outdoors.
  • You don't need a lot of stuff to be happy. Happiness doesn't come from owning stuff.
  • Mac and cheese is baked with real cheese, and it is really good.
  • Sweet tea tastes better when you add mint, especially mint from your garden.
  • It's not the food, china, silver, or decorations--but the time you spend with loved ones enjoying good company that you'll remember.
  • Always offer someone a beverage when they come to your home. Even if they're there to work on your house. You never know what they're going through, or how hard the day has been. A simple gesture can make a big difference. It's Southern hospitality, y'all.
  • Have a front porch. With a swing. And rocking chairs. Spend time there, chatting with people you love about things you remember fondly.
  • Even though you may not visit family often, you're still family. Call and invite yourself down for a visit, and let them know they can come visit you any time.
  • Hug often.
These past few weeks have been tough. But today I recognized I learned so much from loving and being loved by an incredible woman like my grandmother. 

A person never quite leaves you, even though they aren't physically here on Earth. And that's amazing, isn't it? I'm still mourning, but each day gets a little easier. I'm beginning to remember how to laugh.

No comments: