My grandmother would have been 87 years old this month. She passed away four years ago and over the past few years have I really come to understand the full impact that she had on my life.
As a 9th grade dropout she went on to work for a variety of Detroit corporations—most notably Sanders Bakery which served the people of Metro Detroit for decades. She wrote letters to soldiers during WWII to lift their spirits and was considered a bit of a rebel for her time because she “waited” to get married until 23. She always did things her way and I admired her feisty spirit.
My mother and I lived with her throughout my childhood and she was essentially my other parent. As an adult I have come to understand her even better. I have realized how many of her “rules for life” have influenced me.
Rule One: Take time to (literally) smell the roses:
From Kindergarten-12th grade I was only late to class one time and it was because of my Grandmother. It was the spring of 1st grade and she was walking me to school. We had to stop at each flower, smell it and talk about it. While this was all rather fascinating I was very worried about being late to class.
She explained to me that it takes a lot of work to grow beautiful flowers and we must appreciate them during their short life…which did nothing to pacify me as I really wanted to make it to school in time for show-and-tell.
As an adult I understand her message so clearly. Marvel at the beauty of the world. Take time to experience the good things. Too often in our busy days we don’t take time to appreciate the “flowers” in our lives—whether that means people, experiences, or actual flowers! As Kanye West says “people never get the flowers while they can still small ‘em.”
Rule Two: Boys in their 20’s are generally clueless…but they become fantastic men in their 30’s:
OK, so this might be offensive to any male readers of this blog post but please let me explain. My grandparents were married for 60 years and she would always share these nuggets of wisdom about what it means to be in a relationship. When I had a spat with a boyfriend in high school or was questioning something in my personal life she told me that men become the best versions of themselves once they feel comfortable about who they are.
I skeptically listened to her thoughts but as I look at the terrific men in my life—friends, family and even my own husband—I understand exactly what she meant. “Strong women are the equal partners of strong men,” she would say.
Rule Three: Laugh as much as possible–even at the irony of your own difficult situations.
My grandmother had a sign on her kitchen wall that said:
“Someday, your ship will come in.
But with your luck, you’ll be packed and ready, waiting at the airport.”
My grandmother was not blessed with fortune but she was rich in the things that mattered. She laughed all the time and when confronted with difficult things in life she never let it get to her.
As a chronic worrier, I hope to be able to embrace her carefree perspective as I get older. We have a choice to laugh or cry when the tough times arise and she always chose the former. When faced with particularly difficult situations she always had the solution– “German chocolate cake solves a multitude of problems,” she would say. Indeed it does.
Rule Four: Write Thank-You Cards:
If you have ever met me you will understand why my friends think I should buy stock in Hallmark. I love cards—birthday, Christmas, anniversary, “just because” cards, etc.
This is a lesson I learned from my Grandmother. If you are appreciative of something/someone, make sure they know it. In the days of electronic communication this may have become a lost art but I have definitely been influenced by the power of a simple “thank you” and I will always prefer the old-fashioned way—stamps and all!
In honor of Women’s History Month, the lovely #WLSalt ladies/evangelists and my dear Grandmother Mary Klotz’s birthday I hope you will take a moment to think about the important women in your lives and uncover the lessons and legacy that they share with us.