What I Learned From Grandma
[Originally written August 10, 2011; excerpted in a remembrance of Betty Louise Wilson McRobbie at her funeral August 30, 2011, also her 90th birthday.]
Despite our shared cloud of confusion, desperation and knowingly final moments, Grandma showed me today flashes of hope and of the special bond we've shared for three decades. Grandma reminded me -- even in this fleeting, hazy, bittersweet day -- of the many things she's taught me both by example and by more indirect methods in our years together. Here is what I learned from Grandma.
I learned money is stupid. It doesn't come with you, so put enough away to keep your family comfortable, and spend the rest with reckless abandon on things that make those you love happy.
I learned you get more "nice" from others when you start by being nice to them.
I learned every soul has a novel's worth of good stories to tell.
I learned you never stop fighting for love. she loves us, and she's fighting to stay with us as I write this.
I learned dousing all food in copious amounts of salt and butter after cooking said food for far too long is the only way to make it taste "good." I have since learned that this is categorically untrue.
I learned the true meaning of forgiving and forgetting. You have to choose to forgive, and once you truly have, the forgetting follows naturally.
I learned how to choose and apply makeup -- though fortunately I separately learned how to scale it back a tad.
I learned the best Christmas presents are so meaningful that they make the recipient cry.
I learned the importance of the companionship of pets, even the weird or broken ones.
I learned that, given over to the proper storyteller, memories never die, but become a vibrant, living piece of life every day.
I learned that missing even one hour of the time I've had with my grandmother over the years would make me so much poorer. She deserves credit for any shred of success, by any measure of the concept, I will ever have.
I learned the greatest gift truly is, as the old song says, to love and to be loved.