Today would have been my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. As I went out for my run this morning, I heard her voice say, “you’re nuts.” But behind the dismissive head shake, I saw a little bit of pride. A little bit of “atta girl” hidden deep in her tone.
There are absolutes I learned from my grandmother:
- All the dishes really do fit in the china cabinet. You just have know how to load it correctly.
- Everyone is always welcomed to Sunday family dinner, no matter how much you might complain about them the rest of the week.
- Never trust anyone who doesn’t love baseball.
There are subtle lessons I learned from my grandmother:
- How to get people to tell you things they really don’t want to. (AKA: Snooping.)
- The power of a well-placed sigh.
- The happiest place on earth is on your porch, drinking a beer, listening to the ballgame on the radio.
And there are lessons she taught me that I’m trying to unlearn. Sometimes I feel the need to apologize to Gram for being upset at her for the way in which she always talked down about herself. But maybe I don’t need to apologize. Maybe I just need to forgive her. See, my grandmother loved to talk trash about herself. She called herself fat. She called herself a dunce. And that made a huge impression on me. If I learned what it meant to be a woman in this world by watching the women in my world, then my grandmother modeled for me lessons in self deprecation. I could write pages of pop-psychology analysis of why she did that. And I’ve come to some of my own understandings about how she got to that point.
But now I offer her this birthday present: To stop the insanity of self trash-talking.
My grandmother was an awesome woman. She loved her family and welcomed many into the extended fold. She could spin a tale like no one I’ve met and she taught me how to appreciate the magic of baseball. She didn’t need her high school diploma for validation of her worthiness. I loved her for who she was. She didn’t need to be more or better or different.
In celebration of her birthday, I won’t say anything negative about myself today. In fact, when I catch myself thinking something negative, I will immediately take notice and change my thoughts to something positive. It may sound small and insignificant but there is great power in the way in which we think about ourselves. Gram taught me that can be a difficult pattern to shift. But I hope that if I shift it for myself, it will also bring her a little bit of peace.