I woke this morning with intense memories of this lovely woman who shaped so much of my life. My Nana (1922-2012) was one of a kind and it has taken me many years to realize that we are ALL unique and gifted with essential traits that only we can share on this earth - and we become fulfilled only when we share them as a service to others. Nana lived a simple life but her role was clear and she relished every single tightly-sheeted bed and warm apple pie.
Today, I am reminded that the only thing that matters in life is love and Nana was a true expression of that love. Always having time, never making us feel rushed, always listening and rarely offering advice. In those years, I thought it was just that she didn’t have advice to give – but I now realize it was her non-judgmental, unconditional acceptance of what was. What is. Her wise surrender to providing us a safe place to go and her knowing that it would all work out no matter how much it hurt. When I am able to bring conscious the type of surrender she lived, life is fuller, more expansive, more open, full of love for myself and everyone I touch. I used to wonder why she didn’t do “more” with her life but as I approach middle age, I realize that I was measuring her by a contemporary yardstick that has truly messed up our world. We are living chaotic, stressed and overwhelmed lives, lacking joy. We are pushing our children out the door when we should be pulling them back to family conversations, tickle fights and dinner table dialogue. In their day, Nana and Papa thought they were modern – they were proud to surprise us with revealing conversations about growing up and sex and we would giggle thinking, “what do they know?”. Their kitchen table was the heartbeat of their home and it became the place we shared our ups and downs. Papa was a truly enlightened man, he lived with his sights set firmly on an internal compass that led his every move. He lived knowing that he had a Higher power that would be his only judge. Now that I understand enlightenment better – I realize he was ahead of his time. He remained connected to Source and acted as a channel for the rest of us to know God through him but not in a religious sense, in a truly loving way that provided stability to his entire family. I am often blessed to hear his voice, his constant guidance, his words of wisdom and I wish I could talk to him again, just once, to ask all the questions I should have asked. Perhaps I’ll try.
So today, as I sit and allow myself to feel the memories work through my body, I realize that Nana and Papa are with me. They are in me. They ARE me. And if I cherished their love, gentleness and kindness to get through tough times and to celebrate triumphs – then others need ME the same way I needed them. And the only thing that really matters, after all is said and done, is that I was there, really there, for those people. One day I, too, will grace the Heavens and my family will have memories of me. The nature of those memories is what I am building now with the morning pancakes and the nighttime cuddles. With the kisses on hurts and the reminder to brush teeth. With the presence I bring to every conversation and the loving acceptance I provide when they don’t quite live up to an external standard. I will be a memory and whether they take the time, on an ordinary day like today, to sip from a special tea cup and flip through photos is up to how I love them while I’m still here. And, more importantly, how they feel about themselves, on an ordinary day like today, will depend on how I have empowered them to choose self-acceptance, self-compassion and inner peace. Our goal here can’t be the accumulation of wealth, prestige, better cars and bigger houses, those things are temporal and only transiently fulfilling. I have 17 years of post-secondary education, 3 degrees and countless certifications but, today, I stare respectfully into the eyes of my grandmother who had none and pray for a smidgeon of her acumen. Life must be more about collecting and cherishing relationships, personal growth that brings a measure of daily joy, heartfelt contribution to the less fortunate and just plain love. As Wayne Dyer explains, we attract what we ARE and I want more of what Nana gave me. So, today is the day I become Nana for everyone around me. To emulate all the good she brought to our lives is to, not only, honor her memory but to create a generational legacy that could, in all honesty, change our world one family at a time. Love is that powerful.