Don’t be afraid to raise eyebrows: Life lessons from my gran
Just over a week ago, my gran died. She was 84, and she was one amazing lady.
As the messages poured in from people who knew and admired her, I particularly loved hearing about people’s favourite memories of her. These memories – and the ones shared by family at her memorial service – paint a picture of an extraordinary life, and have given me a lot to think about.
These are the lessons she taught me; this is what inspires me – at Pomegranite, and in the wider world.
1) Never be afraid to raise eyebrows.
In fact – my gran would actively encourage this. She was a gracious, charming woman. But man, she would relish any opportunity to cause a bit of a stir (in the best possible way). When I was a teenager, I was given some (very bright) purple and green, (very high) platform takkies for Christmas. Gran laughed when I unwrapped them. She thought they were quite ridiculous – which, of course, they were. Seeing her reaction, I dared her to wear them to church (she was an active and respected member of the congregation). And she did. Happily. Many an eyebrow was raised that day. And she loved it.
2) Know who you are, but never take yourself too seriously.
My gran had the most infectious laugh. It would bubble out of her and fill the room, leaving everyone laughing too. She was always ready to laugh at herself, and I loved her for it.
3) Enjoy yourself. This is very important.
It was always clear when my gran was having fun – which she did, often. Because she filled her life with people and things that made her happy. Life is short. If there’s something that is making you unhappy, change it. Actively build the life you want to live.
4) Make the most out of every situation.
When she was in her 70s, my gran flew to Bucharest, Romania, to visit my aunt who lived there for a while. When the plane landed, she discovered that she was, in fact, in Budapest, Hungary. Not one to waste an opportunity, she quickly made some Hungarian friends at the airport, who took her on a city tour and put her up for the night, before she flew to the correct city the following day. She had the time of her life.
5) Celebrate other people’s success.
My gran made sure that this was something that was cultivated in our family. Jealousy – big or small – was not tolerated. You knew that your turn would come, and as a result, you could take immense pleasure in celebrating with the person in the limelight.
6) Be brave, be bold, be independent.
My gran’s life was not a walk in the park – although she would have been the first one to tell you how completely fabulous it was, and mean it. Difficult things were thrown her way, but she was undaunted. A feminist ahead of her time, she was fiercely independent. If the car broke down on a family trip in the middle of nowhere (they were always going to the middle of nowhere), the family would pile out and (husband included) would watch her fix it. She carved her own path in life, and encouraged us to do the same.
She would have been so proud of Pomegranite. I am.