We don’t have to look very far to find things that are remarkable. Just turn on the news. There is remarkable pain and suffering and things that are hard to understand all around us.
It’s not always so easy to find things that are remarkably inspiring. This post is about someone who is remarkable and inspiring: my grandmother. Her name is Myrtle but everyone who loves her calls her Myrt or Granmyrt. She is remarkably loving, remarkably smart and, now, very happily, remarkably old. She turned 90 not long ago and I’d like to use my little corner of the web to celebrate the lessons she has taught me about how to be remarkable.
Never Hesitate to Give Away A Cabbage
Granmyrt was born in 1919 and lost her dad to a logging accident when she was eleven years old. Her mother, Belle, was left alone to raise five children at the beginning of The Great Depression. They struggled to survive in ways that we can’t imagine with a laptop in one hand and a cell phone in the other. But one thing they always had was a vegetable garden. A little cornmeal, some peas and a head of cabbage made a supper on many a night. They lived near a train track and it was not uncommon for a hopeless man to notice their garden from those tracks. Belle never turned anyone away who was hungry and she would always give a cabbage to someone who needed it, even if Belle didn’t know what her own family would eat later that week. My grandmother told me how she hated having to work in that garden but she was always glad they had something to give away. Most people now think of a cabbage as something of little value. It makes me wonder what we might be overlooking that could offer sustenance to others around us, even if tending the garden is hard work.
Play First, Then Chores
When my grandmother was a school girl, she loved playing basketball. She preceded any notions of competitive teams for girls but she was part of a pick-up game many days after school. She would play as hard and as long as she could before running home just in the nick of time to get her chores done. Her sister would nag her that she should be getting her chores done right away, but Granmyrt knew it was important to play when you could. Chores would always be there.
Would It Hurt Me? Would It Hurt Someone Else? Would I Be Embarrassed To Tell My Grandmother?
That’s the moral code she taught me. She trained me to ask myself those questions whenever a situation made me uncomfortable. I think she started branding those questions into my brain when I was about fifteen. There’s no telling how many bad decisions I avoided by knowing that someone loved me unconditionally and cared enough to give me a ritual for making healthy choices. Fortunately, she doesn’t embarrass easily.
Grief Won’t Kill You
Chances are, someone you love has died. Maybe the grief seems overwhelming. I lost my mom when I was 21 and my grandmother was a key person who helped make that bearable. What astounds me still is watching her lose so many people over the second half of her life – her husband, her mother, her siblings, her co-workers, and nearly every single friend she ever had. That part of getting very old is impossible to imagine. She has grieved and survived. She talks about those who are gone and keeps the memories of them alive. She laughs when she tells stories about them. She never seems to lapse into pain. She has grieved in extremely positive ways and has taught me to do the same.
Pray Hard and Believe Harder
If you ever need someone to pray for you, my grandmother seems to have a direct line to God. I’ve never seen anyone pray with such sincerity or intensity as she does. When she prays for you, you KNOW you have been prayed for. But what I have really noticed is that after she prays, she BELIEVES. She believes that God is always listening. She believes in her prayers and she believes in the power of God to heal, protect and provide. When she says “Amen,” it’s as good as done. Because that is how she believes.
Would you like to borrow Granmyrt? Everyone who meets her does.
I’d love to hear your stories of how an older person in your life has shown you how to be remarkable, too.