Happy Holidays

My father’s mother, my greatest inspiration, passed away on December 8th at age 91. So this season has been one of introspection and reflection for both Don and me. I’ve been thinking a lot about her life and what it was that made her so very special. She was definitely the hardest worker I have ever known, running a dairy farm with my grandfather, outside of Scranton, PA for over 50 years, and raising five boys. When times got hard, and with two of the boys headed off to college, she went to work at Bendix Aviation Plant, helping on the farm during the day, and then heading off to work the night shift at Bendix for 14 years. She only slept four hours a night during that time, but somehow she found the energy to do what had to be done. She always did.

But she also found time to play. She loved to dance and sing and play shuffleboard and pinochle. And Christmas was her very favorite time of the year. She was always a child at heart. The smallest of things gave her great pleasure, hand-picked wildflowers, a four-leaf clover. So many times I heard her say, “God has given us such a beautiful world,” and she would gaze out over the green of the fields, the majesty of the mountains, and say, “This is the most beautiful place in the world.” She didn’t understand the notion of travel as she was happiest on her porch with her beautiful view. It was this appreciation of place, of nature, and her love for family that made her so content. Though her life wasn’t an easy one, she accepted it as it was, and always kept her sense of humor. She loved to tell the story of when she was feeding the cows in the barn one evening with her youngest son, and one of the cows pulled her pants down. She was so mad, but the two of them got to laughing so hard they were crying.

At her funeral, my cousin read a list of lessons she had learned from my grandmother, beautiful lessons, the first being “Live life with an open heart.” This my grandmother always did, taking in many strays along the way, including me, when I was trying to find my way. I was living with her at the time when I met Don. And I remember her holding my face between her calloused hands when I said I thought I was in love. “Oh, Lisa,” she said. “I’m so happy for you.” I miss the feel of those hands, the warmth of her hugs, the encouragement she gave me, and her faith in me. But her spirit is still here. When I went out to make a snowman yesterday she was with me, laughing at the flower hat I put on its head, helping me find the right curved branch for its smile. She still reminds me to take time to nurture my inner child and to laugh through the tears, to appreciate what is in front of me each day. To be satisfied in the moment.