Sep 30, 2021
Have you met Grandma yet? I have talked about her before. She is my mother-in-law, Shane's mom. She has now lived with us for over a year. She needs full-time care, and we all chip in to help her along this path we call life.
It is interesting how the mind works and the process it goes through while aging. Even though I do almost everything for her, I am new to her every day. Some days I am the facility worker, other times, I am her roommate, or I am married to the Smith boy. It is different every day! She has specific stories she repeats and sometimes multiple times a day. We let her tell these stories over and over again because they make her happy. It's in these stories she tells you what she holds dear.
Often she says, "I Graduated from BYU in 3 years." She loooves BYU! We bought BYU cups, and every time we hand one to her, she says, "I graduated from BYU!" If you have a BYU shirt on, tears fill her eyes, and she will tell you how she went there. Today we put up a BYU flag out front, and we said to her that we are putting a sign on it that says "A BYU Cougarette Lives Here," she was crying with excitement.
Another fun moment in her life was when her 1st graders sang at her wedding while she was a teacher. She loves this memory and loves to share it. You can tell she has fond memories of her parents and living in Bountiful, she is always asking for the phone and tells us the number to her parent's house because she wants to visit them.
As she ages, we have found that her mind seems to go back to her childhood and the memories that are important to her. So often, I wonder, what are my stories? What are the happy moments that I will treasure? Is there something I will share that I never told anyone!?!? I need to start rehearsing them or make up some good ones so I can recall them.
She loves to tell her oneliners. I need to write them down, so we don't forget! When I shower her and I have to touch her skin with my hands, she always comments, "Cold hands, warm heart." She doesn't like my cold hands! When my kids are quarreling, she will say," You have sneaks in your eyes!" Or when I put her in the car, "I have to drive in the front seat." (like I would really let the Matriarch of the family sit in the back!) When you walk in the room, even though you have already seen her for the day, she will say "Good morning" or "You haven't said hi to me yet!"
As the craziness of life has settled in, I have had to reevaluate and give up what is not essential, such as laundry! Why should you do laundry when you have a husband that wants to watch a lot of football and not feel guilty? So he washes and folds as he does what he loves! Another one I have chosen to give up is ironing! I mean, why buy clothes you have to iron???
Yesterday while I was getting her dressed for the day, she gave one of her famous oneliners and said, "These clothes are mighty creased... I would never wear these at home!" Usually, I tell her, "I know, but I don't iron anymore." or "I am trying to keep you in style; ironing is now out of style." But, yesterday, I said something different, and after contemplating what I said back, I have come to believe and resonate with these words even more.
"Grandma, the most beautiful thing about getting older is that you can choose to do things differently. So often put importance on certain things, but then as we get older and wiser, we realize that those things don't matter. We reevaluate and let go. Ironing is one of those things I have chosen to let go."
I know some might think, "If it makes her happy, then just iron the dang clothes" (think of this response in Napoleon Dynamite style!) Yes, I can iron the dang clothes, but do I really need to?
Getting older brings this wisdom. It is a beautiful thing to let go, and allows room for what brings you joy. It frees us to live the life God wants us to by being present in what is most important. I constantly remind myself that I choose what I want to bring in and what I want to let go.
As you become older and wiser, what are things you choose to let go of in your life? What are you doing in your life that takes up so much time, and it doesn't really matter? Is guilt or shame making you hold onto them? Most importantly, what are you replacing your time with? You can choose what's important to you every day in your thoughts and actions. So how do you choose to live your life, and what in your actions show is most important?