“Its just some crazy story. Its stupid, but it’s interesting,” my Grandma says about the book on her kitchen table. She is always reading something. Grandma gets into some highbrow stuff, but she also loves books like, The Woman Who Could And Did And Killed For Love. I made that one up, but you get the picture. I don’t know how she decides what to read next. Does the local library have a section dedicated to the hybrid genre Mystery/Romance/Thriller? Does she use the Internet for research? She might. She owns a computer, and my uncle got her an iPad. I don’t have an iPad, and wonder what I would do with one if I did. Watch more videos of laughing babies on Youtube? My Grandma uses hers to become a ranked Solitaire player. Touché.
At eighty-eight years old, the woman is still sharp and unrelentingly quick. She remembers everything, down to what my mom’s best friend wore to my Bat Mitzvah. Her state is a combination of the life she lived, luck, and genetics. I know how fortunate I am to have a Grandma who recognizes me when I walk in the door, who knows where I left my bag when I can’t remember where I put it.
“You need to relax,” she tells me. It’s late at night some Tuesday in April of 2010. I am pacing her kitchen, looking for my phone. It’s right where I left it. In my hand. There is a cast and crew of twenty people at her house, and we are very much behind schedule. In New York, I was a writer/producer for the awesome and prolific comedy production company LandlineTV. This is the third time she has allowed us to shoot a video in her home, increased production value for free, and ordered us a huge tray of sandwiches even though I told her we didn’t need them. I am so grateful for her love and support. I am overwhelmed by her belief in me, and the generosity she has shown. “I am so sorry Grandma, we may need to stay about three more hours.” I say nervously, now sitting down because she told me to. This is my work, I care deeply about it, and people are depending on me. However, she’s my family, I care deeply about her, and I don’t want to overstay our welcome. She has already done so much. “Don’t worry. You can stay as long as you need. I have to finish this book anyway,” Grandma tells me with a smile. It’s the second book she’s read this week, and its only Tuesday. “Just relax and do your job. It’s going to be great.” This is exactly what I need to hear at the moment that I need to hear it. She waves me off and continues reading.
As you may recall from part one, I live in Los Angeles, which is not a short trip to my native New York. I haven’t seen my Grandma in over two months, but I call and talk to her as much as possible. When we spoke this morning, I asked what attracts her to the books she chooses to read. “I love stories about determination. I love strong female characters,” she tells me softly, “And I love Secretariat.” Amazing. “He had a beautiful spirit and a big heart. That’s why he could do what he did. Just shows that you can’t let anything beat you down.” Now, I understand why she is drawn to those particular characters and stories. They are her own.
LESSON: Read books. Engage your mind constantly, be inspired, and learn something new every day.
My Grandma has taught me that whatever it is you hope to do, you must have an unrelenting belief in your purpose. Like we all do, I sometimes get blown off course. I let fear take over rather than just taking a breath. However, when I do remember to breathe, I can close my eyes and see my Grandma. She’s sitting at her kitchen table, happily reading The Woman Who Could And Did And Killed For Love. I hear her voice, “Just relax and do your job. Its going to be great.” In those moments, I believe it, and then it’s true.