This week’s blog is a more personal one. Last weekend my grandma Ruth passed away at 102 years old. She was the most amazing woman and lucky to have reasonably good health right up until the very end. Naturally we’re sad that she’s no longer with us. But it got me thinking about journeys. And how hers was long in time but very short in distance.
She was born with the first world war ripping through Europe on a family farm in Sweden not far from where she recently passed away. She worked hard from a young age, married my grandpa, had 6 children, worked even more and didn’t get to fly overseas until she way in her 80’s to visit relatives in the U.S. Growing up next door to grandma and grandpa in a small village back home, I will always remember her stories and her amazing food and baked goods. I spent so many of my afternoons in their kitchen watching, listening and learning.
In the sadness of a loss, there is also the light of a memory and an opportunity to learn and remember. Which is why I’d like to share the following:
- Sometimes it’s not about the distance, it’s about the story. Ruth never moved far away, but she still had so many stories. About other people who moved. About when the first car came to the village. About when grandpa got called to the front in the second world war and she had to look after the farm, 2 small children and an elderly relative all on her own. Everyone has stories that are worth listening to, no matter how far they’ve travelled. I wish I had written down more of hers to learn from.
- Time, space and perspective. 102 years is a very long time to live. The thing about time passing is that it gives a great space to reflect and learn. Maybe even do things differently next time you encounter something. I always say that a physical move is one of the most powerful ways to create that space to look at contrasts and gain perspective. Time is another good one, but only if you’re aware of it and bring yourself to contrast and compare.
- What about our legacy? Most of us would like to be remembered for something by someone. We’d like to feel like our life and mission mattered to someone somewhere. Grandma Ruth left 6 children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren behind. But she also left a legacy in her stories. Her cooking and recipes. The last time she hugged me. It’s certain that we all leave this world one day, but the legacy we leave behind is up to us. It does not only live in the children we bring into the world, but also all the things we experience and contribute to.
I would have liked to teleport back home to attend her funeral, but I’m going to have to celebrate her life and remember her from over here. I’ve written before about how to deal with things that happen when you’re not there and to some extent that applies to a loss in the family or your circle of friends as well.
Being far away in distance is hard, but I find that it’s a lot about what we focus on. I choose to focus on love and gratitude for now. And I know she would have done the same.