A Life Well Lived
My Beloved Granny
On August 5, 2014, my dear Granny left her physical form here on earth. I have always had my Granny in my life. Now, I am figuring out how to proceed with her spirit form and live with the void in our lives as we find our new normal without her here in physical form. We know her spirit is with us and we are grateful she isn’t suffering anymore. Those of us who loved her so are figuring out what to do with our suffering and how to carry it well. Granny lived a full and wonderful life. I had the honor of speaking at her funeral. My heart is so grateful that I did. These are the words that I spoke on August 9, 2014 at her memorial service.
Hi everyone. It is lovely to look at such an extremely fortunate group of people. Each and every one of us have been so very blessed to know the wonderful woman I call Granny. One thing was for certain about Granny — to know her was to love her… and — to be loved by her. Granny lived with a completely open heart and throughout the whole of her life, she humbly and graciously taught everyone who knew her just what that choice looks like and just exactly what love really is.
Knowing someone like Granny through the whole of your lifetime is the most precious gift. Throughout my life she has been a shinning light to me in various ways and for abundant reasons; sometimes for the laughs, sometimes for the tears, sometimes for the wisdom and always for the love. I have known many versions of my dear Granny over the years as well as loved her through many versions of myself. She always took the time to share openly and authentically just who she was and how she was changing over time as well as to know just exactly who I was and what was important to me at the time. She never ceased amazing me with all that she was. Until her last days, I found myself astounded at her wisdom and, of course, delighted by her spirit.
Over the last ten years I have been reading every spiritual master or great thinker I can find, trying to learn all the best ways to honor a lifetime and fulfill my purpose here on earth. Repeatedly, no matter how various teachers have presented the secrets to life or the best spiritual wisdom around, I found myself thinking, “Granny lives like that” or “Granny knows that one” or “Granny used to say that in her own way.” I am not even sure she knew how much wisdom she possessed, but that is what made being near her so special. She just oozed great things out in a beautiful aura around her. She didn’t have to talk about her wisdom and she didn’t feel identified by it, she didn’t place expectations on others, she simply lived each day the best she could and chose happiness and joy as she shared those choices with everyone around her.
Granny followed her heart; she didn’t follow others. Link Frank Sinatra says, she did it her way. She chose to live a happy, positive life. It was her choice and she made it again and again each and every day. She wasn’t one to tell others how to live, but her life was a lesson for us all. She showed us how to live and love and fill a life with meaning and joy.
Today, I want to share a few of the big lessons from Granny’s life:
Acceptance – Granny lived with utter acceptance of life. Over all the years, all the battles with cancer, or suffering and deaths of loved ones or even just the day-to-day stuff; I never ever heard her wish things were different. She didn’t waste energy wishing things were other than they were. She accepted things as they came and made the best of every situation. Granny was in the flow of Life. If that were the one lesson we took away, it would be enough to lead a beautiful life.
Compassion – Granny loved everyone through everything. She didn’t spend time telling people how they should be living or what they were doing wrong. Even though she always wanted the very best for us all and certainly had to bear with us through interesting choices at times. She never judged. She loved with utter compassion and non-judgment. She had her opinions and could state them when asked or when the mood struck her, but she didn’t push and we never had to worry about disappointing her. It didn’t seem possible. She just knew that things work out and she loved patiently though all things.
A favorite maxim around our house from a beloved teacher is — Don’t Whine, Don’t Complain, and Don’t Make Excuses — Granny lived this so completely. She never ever did whine, complain or make excuses. I love the matter of fact attitude she had at times. As a child, and even as a young lady, during our girl talks, I would question her about things from her past or ask why she hadn’t done something else or made a different choice. She always said, “Stac – that is just the way it was.” She didn’t add reactions and drama to things that had happened or make excuses for any choices ever. She just lived her life the best she could and made no apologies or complaint along the way. That is just beautiful! I must admit that I do love to picture her when I was super little and she still swore and smoked…it comforts me somehow and makes me think there is still hope for me to sort all these things out. Perhaps I’ll get to a place where I truly live all these teachings some day. With her spirit around me, I am sure to succeed. Or at least, get up and try my best again and again and again.
Presence – In all the teachings, said in so many ways, the ultimate truth is always there — the present moment is all there ever is. Granny had a lovely presence about her that was infectious. She had this because wherever she was, she was completely there with all her heart. She didn’t have a lot of distractions about her. She didn’t speak of regrets from the past or worries about the future. She was completely in the moment and happy to be with whomever was with her at that moment in time. This gift she gave to everyone was truly amazing. When we are fortunate enough to spend time with others who are completely present, we can find that presence in ourselves and share it with others. Granny surely did that for everyone here today and throughout her life in so many ways.
Perception – The life we make is created simply out of the one we choose to see. We experience exactly what we think we see and all the details we give our attention to, to go along with that story. We choose. Granny knew this. To say that Granny’s cup was half full is an understatement. She just had that way of seeing the best, expecting the best, forgiving the less than best and helping others see life that way too. I remember when I was little telling her, “Granny, I’m mad!”…in every case, no matter what the cause, she would reply, “Well, you’ll get glad again.” She was right. I did. Thank goodness she didn’t commiserate with me. She taught me a lot through that choice of non-reaction. She allowed me to be as I was and she created the space for me to make a better choice. How very wise of her! What a wonderful gift she gave me.
Love – All the great teachings lead to love. It was life changing for me when I learned that all things are either fear or love and that people act out of those two choices. All those other things that aren’t love are simply fear. When we realize that people are just scared, we can forgive anything and spread love. I think Granny knew that. That is why she was so full of pure love; she understood the alternative and the source for other things. That is how she knew all would always be well and people would figure things out just as they are meant to. We all find our way back to love. I spent a lot of time with Granny over the years and in these last years kept up with my Mom to hear just how things were going. I am sure that Granny felt fear on many occasions. The thing about her is that she never let it get to her. She knew how to handle things and not let them get the best of her. She kept her heart open to let love come in and chose not to allow fear to close things up. In her last days, she knew how to ask for help from her dear children who were there for her in the most amazing ways. Once when I was little, I remember sitting in the truck with her and my dear Grandpa. They were trying to back the truck into a tight spot. She was nervous at the time and the mood was tense. It took awhile, but they got the job done. When Grandpa got out of the car, she told me, “Stac, it is just terrible when you get old, you get scared of everything. It is awful.” Then off we went to do errands and any trace of fear was impossible to see. She returned to being the fearlessly amazing woman she always was. To that little girl with her, she was just the most wonderful thing in the world. I’m glad she shared those feelings with me that day. I was really surprised. She wasn’t even old yet. She had been so authentic with me and shared her vulnerability with me. She didn’t dwell in it or let it get the best of her. She had the choice to make, and the way I see it, her choice was always love and her life was never lived through the heartbreaking veil of fear.
Granny new much much more about Love and I think that 1 Corinthians 13: verses 4-8a sum it up best. I think Granny would love to hear these verses now and she would be glad to have her loved ones thinking these beautiful thoughts.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Granny was all of these things; she was Love and hers will live on through all the lives she has touched. One of the best ways I ever heard the sound of love in my life was when she would exclaim, “Stacaroo, I love you!” as she would embrace me and delight my soul. As we all know, to be loved by Granny was a truly blessed experience. You didn’t have to know her throughout your entire lifetime or be someone particularly special to her. I believe that we were all special to her. I believe she knew just how connected we all are and just how much love we actually have to give. Thank you so much Granny for sharing your Love so beautifully with so many.
Granny’s life was full of wonderful examples of how to live. I could go on and on here about many many more virtues Granny completely lived in her life…kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, generosity, encouragement, hard work, friendship, determination, loyalty and so much more. She was a living example full of so many wonderful lessons; it is impossible to capture them all here. But, one virtue that she took very seriously and that cannot be left out today is her devotion to and complete and utter passion for fun.
Fun — My favorite spiritual teacher says that if it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t working. Granny knew this. You can’t talk about Granny without talking about having fun.
Where to begin? Perhaps first with her smile. I am sure that if we close our eyes and picture our memories with dear Gran, we will notice the beautiful smile that always lit up her face and we will remember the quick and easy laughter that sprung from her Being so frequently. Oh, how many times she got tickled and taken over with a big case of the giggles – that was truly living. To be near it was to feel alive and well.
To know Granny as a child was just the coolest thing in the world. Granny was timeless; she didn’t treat children like the number attached to their age. She was smitten with children of all ages (even 37) and she always made you feel like your opinion mattered, like you had a voice, that you really knew something and that you were worth her time and attention. She was interested in really getting to know all the little ones in her life and she treated us all with respect and adoration. She made it so easy to give those things back to her. I had so many wonderful childhood experiences with her. Throughout all the years of my adolescence, the thing I remember most of all as I look back now, was that she really listened to me. Her listening continued throughout my lifetime and I know that she gave that same gift to everyone she met and all that she encountered. That listening gave us our strong bond and led us to buckets of fun together.
Just a few fun memories to share:
- Taking bubble baths together – when I stayed with my dear Grandparents, it was a given that Granny and I had bath time at the end of each day. That was such a special time when I was a tiny girl. Those talks we shared, those giggles too, it was just like she had produced an “everyday” kind of magic that was filling my spirit. It felt so normal, but so magical too.
- The dancing and singing – oh the memories of Granny ironing away and shaking her hips and singing out her favorite songs while she worked. She definitely knew how to make work look fun.
- Driving with her – whenever it was just her and I in the car, she belted out the songs so gregariously, it was such a hoot and it gives me the giggles to this day. She was really something back then.
- Swimming at the lake. She was always up for a dip. Just don’t splash her hair! How lucky we all were to have the cool Granny who swims with the kids.
- Playtime – Granny loved my imaginary games I played during my many visits. She was so cool at acting out whatever I had going on. She could be the bank teller, office worker, restaurant customer, whatever I needed; she was in and happy to play along. No matter how busy she was or how many things she needed to get done in a day, she had time to play with me.
- Board games and cards. It is almost like “enough said” on this one because we all have our own memories of playing games with Granny. She loved it so much when she could get a game going. She taught us all so many games over the years. Starting with Candy Land and working our way up to Hand and Foot, we were all so blessed to sit at her joyful tables of games.
- Entertaining – I had so many fun childhood memories helping Granny with her parties and potlucks with all her various friends when they lived out in the country. She loved entertaining and she was so good at it. People were thrilled to be her guest. I loved the square dance potlucks the most! To see her sparkle and delight her friends was truly something to behold. It never seemed like I was the tag along kid, I felt like the luckiest guest. She always created the environment that allowed me to be embraced by all who loved her so. She shared the love so graciously.
- Open house – her house was always open to whoever wanted to visit her and over the years and in various stages of life, she was never ever short on visitors. It was fun to see people so excited to see her and so happy to be in her presence. So much fun was always had by all! That open heart of hers kept her house open and full. She loved it!
- Reading time – Granny loved to read. When we would settle down together in the afternoons to read a bit and take a break before preparing dinner, it felt like absolute peace and joy mixed into one. This tradition is something that I have carried on with my children. We settle down and read together each day and it feels like heaven.
- Everything was fun with Granny; even watering the trees…I could go on and on about so many fun things here and no words I could ever choose would do the memories justice.
- These memories I have shared are my own, but they are mixed with the love and laughter she shared with all of her grandchildren, loved ones and friends. They belong to us all.
- Thank you so much dear Gran. I hope I can remember to laugh as much as you in the remainder of my days. Thank you for showing me how! My husband says I am much more pleasant when I laugh, so here’s hoping it works.
Almost done….hang in there with me.
As I mentioned, I have been on a bit of a spiritual journey for years now, listening to great teachers and reading everything I can get my hands on hoping to take steps toward the best version of myself. I quickly realized along the way how hard it is to truly Live all that you know and learn through even the greatest wisdom out there. Knowing things and living them are two completely different things. Granny lived what she knew. Sometime within the last year, my Mom and Granny shared with me that Granny too had read a book in her twenties that had changed the course of her life. That book was called, The Power of Positive Thinking. My mom recalled her reading it and sharing it with many. Granny lit up at the memory of the book and the opportunity to tell me about it. I smiled at the news. It all made perfect sense. That is so Granny to read one book on the secret to a happy life and then to live it so completely for the rest of hers. She showed us all how it is done so very graciously and with such beauty of spirit and heart.
We have quite a task ahead of us as we learn how to get along without Granny’s form and embrace living with her spirit. We can do it well for her and because of her. We can honor her life by making some of the great choices she made and looking at life and all its circumstances the way she always did. Remembering Granny’s joy, wisdom and positivity can help us choose to be happy and help us to choose it again and again each and every day.
To everyone here – thank you for receiving Granny’s love and loving her back so abundantly – I am sure it was a comfort to her to be so loved by you all. I am sure your love for her confirmed that her approach to Life had been a good one. I love you Gran. I’ll see you and be with you everywhere I go.
——————– end of speech.
I am reading that book Granny loved in her twenties now. As I mentioned, it is called The Power of Positive Thinking. It is an absolute blessing to me at this time. I am so grateful to share the experience of reading it with her now. I am sure I will share many miracles from it here with you soon. We live in a miraculous Universe. There are blessings all around us.
Wishing you the courage to love with your whole open heart! Sending you joy and love today and always!