So while I was in England to speak at the Who Do You Think You Are Live conference, I had an opportunity to go to tea with my mother at the Kensington Palace Orangrie. It was absolutely lovely and everything you would think that tea at Kensington Palace would be.
But while we were there, I wasn't having the wonderful experience that I should have been having. I was frustrated with some things that had come up in life and upset that life wasn't going as I wanted it to. I was complaining to my Mom. I so appreciate that she is a safe place to put my trouble and she is always willing to listen.
Well this time she turned my book around on me--perfectly executing what I have written about in Zap the Grandma Gap. As I was complaining that the world wouldn't conform to my wishes, she sunk a parenting shot that changed my whole outlook on life.
She talked to me about her mother. My matriarchal grandmother suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. She stopped walking when I started walking and was confined to a wheelchair the entire time I knew her. She passed away just before my third child was born, making about thirty years that she patiently dealt with this horrible disease and the horrible wheelchairs that she was confined to. Grandma dealt with it all with absolutely amazing grace.
These are my mother's parents. I adored my grandmother and grandfather
and I am so thankful for the 30 years that I had with them before they
passed. Grandma was so patient with us, with life, and she was happy,
truly happy. I always knew she loved me very much. One of my favorite memories of her was when we were watching TV and saw a news article about Christopher Reeve as a parapalegic. She looked at him and shook her head and said, "I don't know how he does it."
In the midst of my complaining, Mom reminded me that Grandma's life didn't go the way she wanted it to either--but in a much bigger way. Likewise, Grandpa wasn't able to do the things he wanted to with his wife but he loved her all the more. Grandpa worked his whole life for United Airlines and they had free tickets anywhere when he retired. They relished the one trip they were able to take to Europe with my uncle's help and never complained that they couldn't do more traveling.
With Mom's gentle prompting, I decided that day that I can be happy like Grandma Dana even though life gave her something different than what she planned. I can be happy like Grandpa Dana who thought it was a privilege to take care of Grandma. I can be happy with my much smaller trials because I have that in my DNA.
So again we find that the principles of using your family history to strengthen your family today work on adults. The principles from the book even work on me. My Mom is still zapping me.