Five Things My Crazy Grandma Taught Me about Fearless Loveby Courtney Myers Professional Writer and Editor
My grandmother was well into her seventies when she leapt across my living room, right in front of our Christmas tree. She did a front handspring beside the coffee table. The entire house shook a little and more than one ornament fell from the tree, but dang if she didn’t stick that landing.
At 80, my grandmother is the epitome of holding onto your youth as long as you can. Five years ago, she had her breasts augmented, her eyeliner and lipliner permanently tattooed on, and her hair dyed a fierce shade of firecracker red. She’s a handful in a crowd and has caused my dad, her only child, to duck his head in embarrassment on more than one occasion. Yet, for all her antics and attention-grabbing activities, my grandmother taught me more than one thing about what it means to love fiercely, give freely and hold onto 17 for as long as you can.
1. You might not get it right the first time.
My grandmother has had five husbands. Her fifth and last is the only one I’ve ever really known, but before him she had a string of marriages, none of which lasted very long. Does she carry the past around like a badge of shame? Absolutely not. She talks openly about her failed relationships and how they all led her to The One. It isn’t a family dinner unless we’re listening to her wax poetic about traveling around Europe with her second love, or how she met her third at a cocktail bar in the middle of the afternoon. Thankfully, she met and married a man who doesn’t mind her reliving the past. Rather, he seems to revel in it as well, right along with her. She’s a storied beauty with an equally storied yesterday, which just happens to include a few unharmonious matrimonies along the way.
2. You have to go for it, risks and all.
I can’t think of one thing my grandmother has wanted that she hasn’t reached for with all of her might. She wanted to open a 60-and-older yoga studio in her hometown, and she did just that. On Tuesday mornings, a group of senior ladies meets to watch her stretch and bend like she’s not a day over 20. She wanted to take a cruise with her husband to Alaska and dance on board the ship. They took that trip last year and she got her chance. She’s fearless in the pursuit of self-fulfillment and ruthless when it comes to risks. Has that always paid off for her? No. But, is she remarkably centered with little regrets that she voices? Totally.
3. Fake it until you make it.
My grandmother recently arrived at my doorstep with a box of shoes she wanted to hand down to me. You might have thought she came carrying slippers, flats or slip-ons, but I knew better. Inside were sky-high platforms, stilettos and wedges that made me topple over just trying them on. Yet, I could look at every pair and remember the woman wearing them. She’d rock those attention-grabbers with confidence, often pairing them with leggings and a cropped top that only someone with an off-the-charts self-esteem could rock. Yet, one day as we were driving home from the playground with my kids, she teared up and softly told me that she had very little confidence. She found it difficult to stand out in a crowd, but she was trying her best to put her best foot forward and live each day to the fullest. You could have knocked me over with a feather. The one woman in my family who I thought had somehow avoided our inherited anxiety and self-deprecation was revealing to me she felt very much the same way I did. Yet, she slipped on the stilettos anyhow and made a grand entrance.
4. Love trumps all.
For years, she had a profitable and successful career in marketing. She and her husband built a comfortable and secure little life in Texas, the only state big enough to hold her personality. They designed it to be as energy efficient and tech-savvy as possible, installing solar panels on the roof and a smart thermostat, and even a water reuse system to help them make the most of every drop. You can read more here about the forward-facing measures they took to upfit their home. It was a labor of love, but they had plenty of it to spare.
She had a swimming pool out back, a retirement account that reflected years of work, a chandelier in the living room and a healthcare plan set up to last her the remainder of her life. She had a circle of friends and hosted dinner parties twice a month. Yet, she gave it all up. She uprooted everything she’d ever known and moved to North Carolina when her oldest granddaughter (me) announced she was expecting. She made up for 30 years of time she’d lost living halfway across the country from us our entire lives. She makes dinner for our huge, extended family once a week and has become as integrated into and important in our lives as anyone else. She calls her best friend back home and tells her all about her new life in our state. Does she miss them? Of course. Would she leave her modest home in the Carolina suburbs and go back to her plush pad near Dallas? Not for a second.
5. You have to declare your feelings.
No one is a mind reader. No one knows what you’re feeling unless you tell them. This is true in love, in family, in career and in any relationship. My grandmother knows this and is careful to make sure not a day goes by that we don’t feel her affection. Do I always appreciate it? Not when she makes an announcement of her love in front of the entire church congregation, which she recently did. Yet, I’ve never once doubted how she feels about us, and that says so much. She’s loud and boisterous and to the uninitiated, a little much. But she gets her point across in a way that very few can and at the end of the day, she’s taught me so much about the importance of letting those you love actually feel and comprehend that love. Declare it. Say it aloud. Don’t hold it in and regret it later.
My grandmother will be 81 in the fall. She’s still every bit as beautiful and flexible as she was in her youth. She’ll likely strut around in those platforms for the next 10 years, not batting a fake eyelash about any of it. She’s unabashedly fearless with her heart and reckless with her love. For years, I thought I would cower under the intense weight of it all. Because it is intense. But as I’ve grown older, I can appreciate her for what she offers: a chance to be tethered to someone who rolls the window of life down all the way, thrusts her colored hair into the breeze, and throws her hands up to the sky -- and her heart out the window.
Created on Jul 18th 2018 12:19. Viewed 842 times.