“If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
When we are young we are determined to be different from our parents and not replicate everything they did. We believe we have some great insight which was somehow missed by previous generations. We are going to do this, and not do that. We will pay more attention to this and somehow not worry about that. Then as if by magic life happens and all those insights slip away and we go about the living of life.
Myself, I believed I had a great role model. My grandmother was patient, kind, forgiving and understanding. I felt I had a clear grasp on who I was and the life I was meant to live. Now looking back I think I would have said overall that I was happy. There were concessions I had made but assumed these were sacrifices everyone made and we each only experienced a certain level of happiness.
Then came the summer of 1997 and I was visiting my grandmother who had lost my grandfather after 52 years of marriage a few years prior. We were driving around visiting with friends and family and I posed this question to her “What would you change if you could go back and change anything?” Her response was said without hesitation and with complete conviction. “I wouldn’t have married Joe!” I almost wrecked the car. I had to pull over to the side of the road and park.
I looked at her with disbelief and had to try and wrap my head around what I just heard. You were married 52 years, you renewed your vows on your 50th, you raised me on we make a vow to love and honor and we love and honor. She took my hand in hers, looked me in the eyes and replied “Life passes quicker than we could ever imagine. We make choices when in the moment are the right choices. Then life changes, we change and what we are meant to do changes. Don’t live your whole life fulfilling a commitment only to get to the end and regret it all.”
I had no idea, I doubted anyone in my family had any idea my grandmother felt she had never fulfilled her purpose. She had signs of a western Mother Teresa yet little did I know that was her dream, her calling if you will.
My grandmother had taught me the rules, yet for the first time in my life she shared her true hearts calling. This was one of the most impactful moments of my life. It enlightened me in a way I had never imagined and gave me the power to know I could and should live a happy life and sometimes that means leaving behind other ideas or dreams. We change, we grow and we discover who we are over time by the people we encounter, the things we do and how much we are willing to seek inward that which makes our heart sing.