On December 12, my great-grandmother Laura turned 98 years old.
And it wasn’t until my dad responded to that fact by saying, “really is something,” that I realized just how lucky I am to have known my great-grandmother.
I had the chance to meet all of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side. Laura is the last one still with us and in my 26 years of knowing her, these are all the things she’s taught me:
Never Give Up.
You don’t get to 98 without a lot of fighting (and some help from God). Although she’s given us a lot of scares over the years, she’s always come out on the other side just as excited about continuing on with her life as she was before.
Have a Sense of Humor.
If there is one person who can make me laugh, it’s my great-grandmother — she’s also the one person who makes herself laugh.
Whether it’s her saying her classic phrase when something goes wrong, “Oh, hell and fire water,” or laughing at herself when she thinks she looks funny, Laura taught me that laughter truly is the best medicine.
It’s Okay to Rely on People for Help.
My great-grandmother has never had a shortage of love and all of those who care most about her have been there for her every step of the way.
After her husband, my great-grandfather died in 1993, my great-grandma never remarried. I never asked her if she ever wanted to, but she certainly didn’t have to.
Despite losing her husband, she was never alone. Her children and her daughter-in-law quickly stepped in to help when she needed it and they — along with my mom — continue to do to this day.
She may be 98, but the woman can still party. Since I was born, Laura was our caregiver when my parents were working.
I remember our morning routines and the ways were would have fun throughout the day like they were yesterday.
My brother and I remember the countless wrestling matches we would have and the countless “pony rides” she would give us when we were younger. Although, now that we are older, she blames my brother and I and those pony rides for her knee problems. Sorry, Gram!
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.
Some things are just not worth fussing over if it’s just not something that can be done. As Laura got older, one of the first things to go was her hearing. It got to a point where not even hearing devices help and now she just throws her hands up in the air … and occasionally asks if we are talking about her when we are at the dinner table.
Now I find myself throwing my hands up in the air just like her when something goes wrong that is beyond my control.
Also, if you want to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting, do it, if that’s what makes you happy.
Family Is Everything.
Despite being 72 when I was born, there wasn’t much my great-grandmother missed throughout my life.
Up until I went off to college, I saw her and most of my other family members every day and Laura will always be one of the people I can’t wait to see whenever I get the chance to travel home.
Regardless of her age or her ailments, she’s always there because family is the most important to her.
And I hope that if I am lucky enough to be a mom, a grandmother, even a great-grandmother someday, that my great-grandchildren look at me the way her great-children look and think of her.
Happy birthday, Gram! We love you.