Recognizing (and accepting) one’s power isn’t hard if you have wisdom. Not everyone processes the right wisdom to avoid crossing the street against oncoming traffic—because they don’t trust instincts.
“For age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress, and as the evening twilight fades away. The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My grandmother, who lived to be over 100 years old, imprinted her wisdom—think for yourself and be an honest and compassionate person. Not all people would Grandma invite or even want in her home, let alone sit on her porch. Grandma was particular, not liking phony people, or those who drew a breath off someone’s misfortune. Grandma’s father, a Seminole Indian, and mother, a runaway slave, had a wagon full of children, who lived in Florida’s wooded swamps. As the eldest grandchild, I grew up hearing Grandma weave a quilt of stories from her Native American and Slavery Heritage.
Lately, I’ve read about elders dying of COVID-19 and wonder how Grandma would have fared? An avid gardener, skilled fisher on Lake Erie, and able to skin a rabbit, raccoon, possum, or a deer, even in her 90’s—Grandma had a lesson, or two, to pass down to a truckload of grandchildren, to great-great-grandchildren:
“Live your life as if today were your last day on earth.”
As a child, I’d soak up the ol’ folks’ clichés Grandma seasoned my ears with while she braided my hair, or when I helped her hang clothes in the afternoon’s sun, or as we drank iced tea on the backyard swing. I can’t remember all the stories leading up to these antidotes—but Grandma’s zinger summations have been my foundation. Here are several:
“Dig your own grave, because you know how deep to make it.”
“It’s better to open the door to an enemy—at least you know who they are.”
“If you carry the weight of guilt on your shoulders, you’ll never walk with a straight back.”
I’ve been collecting articles featuring fearless women. Their voices remind me of my aunts, mother, and of course, Grandma, passing down life’s recipe for longevity: useful—I think—even when tomorrow’s uncertainties are a truck full.
“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.”—Ann Landers
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion”—Maya Angelou
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”—Sophia Loren
“Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!”—Ingrid Bergman
“I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.”—Virginia Woolf
“Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is really up to you.”—Oprah