My grandma taught me a lot – about life, about love, about what it means to be a good person. She was one of the best humans on this earth. She was giving, kind, compassionate. Even when she was at her sickest, she never faltered in her positivity and tenacious spirit. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for my grandma. Every decision I make, there is always this underlying question I ask myself, “Would this make my grandma proud?” (Which, to be honest, can be quite the difficult question to answer when making a not-so-smart choice, as we’re wont to do!)
She was always more than a grandma to me, but someone I considered a mentor and a friend.
So, with all this in mind, I wanted to write a post on some of the life lessons my grandma taught me.
1. Family first – always.
My grandma raised six children (five boys! And one perfect angel of a daughter – my mama!). She also helped to raise three more children (a godson and two grandchildren), and in the past three years, has been helping to raise another child (a great-grandchild). My grandma was all about family – she was happiest rocking a baby, she loved big family get-togethers, and lavished all her attention on her kids. When I was younger, my brother and I would spend countless entire weekends at her house and she was always so happy to have us there. Grandma taught me the importance of family.
2. The most important relationship you’ll have in life is your relationship with God.
My grandma was a devout Christian and believed in God with her full heart. Her belief in God was inspirational because she was one of those people who had a real relationship with Jesus. She lived and breathed her faith. She was one of those people who could pull out a Bible verse from her head to provide comfort for anything someone was going through. She was the one who taught me about the Bible, about Noah and Abraham and Jonah and Paul. She was the one who taught me to pray, and while it breaks my heart that I’ll never again be comforted by her prayers for me again, I’m so grateful I was the recipient of them for so many years, especially the ones I never heard. Grandma taught me about the comfort that is believing in something bigger than yourself. She taught me how important a relationship with God is.
3. A positive attitude will take you far.
When I think of my grandma, I try not to remember the lady she was in the hospital, but I try to remember who she innately was – someone who always had a smile for me, who would always laugh at my jokes (no matter how lame!). She exuded positivity throughout her entire life. Her positive attitude is what helped her through multiple cancer diagnoses, through countless rounds of chemotherapy, through the hard nights and dark days. Grandma taught me to find positivity in the everyday, and that the mind is a powerful instrument in fighting the body.
4. Making people feel loved, appreciated, and special is one of the best gifts you can give to the world.
There’s an quote by Maya Angelou that states, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” My grandma embodied that quote so much. She made people feel good. She made them feel accepted and loved and valued and cherished. Whenever I was around her, my spirits instantly lifted and I felt better about myself and my life. Grandma taught me that everyone is deserving of love.
5. Chocolate is a cure for most everything.
I definitely have my grandma to thank for my raging sweet tooth. She loved chocolate, baked goods, all sweets. For grandma, problems were solved through a sweet treat. When my mom left my father, my mom, brother, and I all moved in with my grandparents. That period of time was difficult, but my fondest memories of that time were the nights spent around the kitchen table – just my grandma, my mom, and me – drinking hot chocolate and eating something sweet, talking about life and reminiscing on the past. Grandma taught me to love your guilty pleasures and to never apologize for them.
6. Find the humor in all things.
My grandma loved to laugh and she had a lighthearted way about her. She knew how to laugh at herself, and being a mom of six kids, she had to learn how to laugh and roll with the punches. Grandma taught me to find the humor in life. Life can be tragic and heartbreaking, but mostly, it’s fun and crazy and hilarious. Laughter is medicine for the soul.
7. You are not your circumstances.
One of the biggest lessons my grandma taught me was this one. She was never a victim. She never questioned why or blamed God or complained about her cancer diagnosis. And maybe, deep in the corners of her mind or when she was alone with my grandpa, she allowed those thoughts to seep through, but even if she did, she never lived in a victimized way. She was a woman who had cancer, not a cancer patient. Grandma taught me that I am not my anxiety, I am not my weight, I am not my singleness. I am Stephany – and that is perfectly enough.
8. Invest in relationships.
My grandma was never a passive participant in her relationships. She was active and always, always interested in the lives of other people. She kept in touch. I mean, her best friend and her were friends for 48 years! Can you imagine having a friend for that long? My grandma had so many people who came to see her at the end, which is a testament to the impact she had on others. Grandma taught me to take the time to be a friend, no matter how busy life gets.
What’s a life lesson you learned from your grandma?