When something terrible happens, people say, “the heart’s sadness, loss, and aching pain will lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true. Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the entire time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it. The sadness would paralyze us.
Today, my grandmother passed away at 89, and as the only influential person left in my life, my heart is broken.
My nanna played an influential role in my holistic development. She instructed me to do the work in uncovering who ‘Brian’ is and could be. Her guidance and words were infallible. Whenever my grandma and I were together, she would tell me stories and listen to mine. One day while having lunch and watching our favourite program, the Flintstones, she said, “Brian, you know, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. Please never stop believing in yourself because you’re a good boy, and we love you.”
From that moment on, I began to understand that as long as someone or something can control your mind, it will control you. I never wanted to be in a position where someone could control my mind because of my lack of knowledge. From then on, I would consistently read and learn as much as possible to prepare myself for a fruitful life. I tell people my love for books developed after reading Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, but ultimately it derives from my grandmother’s words that day in the kitchen. My grandma’s words were a pivotal teaching moment that would radically alter the trajectory of my adult years and entire life. One devoted to continuous learning.
My grandma’s only recurring request to me was to be a good human being. She would say during our lunches together, “When we cheat the process of developing as individuals, we cheat ourselves. When we cheat ourselves, we cheat the gifts offered throughout life.” During our time together, my grandmother didn’t share much about herself, but when she did, she spoke softly and passionately about her life, losses, pain, dreams, happiness, and all the lessons that embodied these points of reference. Her words and stories are undoubtedly one of the most telling and cherished memories I will hold of my grandmother.
Today I will honour my grandmother’s life with you by remembering and sharing the wisdom she tried to teach me. I hope you find value in each of them:
- Be willing to do hard things to open windows of opportunity,
- Small, incremental changes change everything in the long run,
- Life changes from time to time, and so can you,
- Solitude is necessary, too,
- You don’t need more to be happier. Most of the time—you need less,
- Starting each day with gratitude always feels better than the alternative,
- New opportunities are always going to be out there waiting for you to find them,
- And never let a single potato go to waste, throw away the crust, and theirs always more ice cream.
As I’m wrapping up this brief homage to my grandmother, I’m reminded of a poem by Christian D. Larson. These are words my grandmother lived by and words I do my best to consider each day:
Thank you, Nanna, for my love of movies, my giving spirit, my frugal nature, your typed letters, the expensive cards 😊, the time shared with Grandpa Rod Avon, oranges during soccer, brunches, personal development, and for always being you. Thank you for the hugs, laughs, smiles, bike rides through Stanley Park, cough drops in church, and cucumber sandwiches. Your memory will live on, and you will always be loved.
I will miss you and your love for shopping at the Salvation Army. The best place to find socks for dirty feet! ❤️❤️