One afternoon many decades ago, we visited my husband’s elderly grandmother, Mimi. Mimi wistfully reminisced that in her busy younger life, she had set aside reading, thinking to reserve this pleasure for her golden years. Now blind as well as deaf, however, reading was out of reach. I found this deeply sad.
Mimi, however, was not herself sad. Gracious, grateful, and uncomplaining, she spent her last decades living with my husband’s parents, in a sunny apartment over their garage. My mother and father-in-law had moved in with Mimi during the early years of their marriage. It seemed natural to me that they had returned the favor.
What I did not appreciate in my twenties, though, was that as Mimi progressed into her nineties, it was not only she who was adapting. Two more generations were impacted. From her richly lived life, she had much to teach.
We went upstairs one day to tell Mimi about our newest adventure, learning to scuba dive. Using an old-fashioned curved black horn to hear, leaning in close, her expression became one of shock! This woman born in the 1890’s, who had ridden in horse-drawn carriages, could not apprehend our feat. When we reminded her that a man had walked on the moon, she did not believe her ears!
What a gift to see the world through the reactions of this special woman, sixty years our senior.
We appreciated electricity more, knowing that Mimi had grown up fearing this new invention.
We thought about how important it was to relish our opportunities; our good health, our senses, and family. To be sighted to read, to be fit enough to travel Our lives stretched ahead of us. Compromises seemed so remote.
We have become the grandparents now. We have needed our share of repairs, but as Mimi taught us, we have allies in optimism, grace and good humor.
Folksy wisdom often stands the test of time. (c)