|Even as walking became difficult, my grandmother was determined to get on this boat with my grandfather.|
I’m one of eight grandchildren that was lucky enough to be inspired by my grandmother.
She was a nurse on the nation's first heart surgery team—chosen to be on standby when important heart-issue-having people like Khrushchev were in the U.S. She happened upon hanging out with strangers like Neil Armstrong's nephew while traveling the world because she struck up conversations with anyone and everyone—often leading to lifelong friendships. She took on crazy projects like painting a grand piano simply because she wanted the color changed—not once, but twice. She was a voracious reader who would pack five large books in her suitcase whenever she was going somewhere, even if it was just for a week. She was a climber of mountains, a connector of cultures and a leader of situations—even through times when ladies often didn't lead.
There are a lot of life lessons that we can learn from her.
We Are All Connected.
Three years ago I was having dinner with my grandparents. My grandmother made a statement that really stuck with me. She said, "Everyone is like you, if you just let them in."
I believe this is at the heart of why empathy is so important. If we all took the time to understand what drives each other, the world would be a peaceful place.
Make Travel a Priority.
My grandparents never had a second car. And any money they would have spent on a second car became their travel fund. For fifty years, they never missed a yearly trip.
Sometimes the things that we think are necessities hold us back from the things that could meaningfully shape us.
Choose life experiences over second cars, you’ll have a lot more stories. And less mechanic bills.
Learn to Lead and Be Brave.
My grandmother always had a clear point of view and was confident in who she was. She was a leader who wasn’t afraid to take a stand for something she believed in.
And she was very brave, from caring for patients to taking on the world. In fact, I once witnessed her bravery in full action. When my grandparents took my cousin and I to the rainforest, I woke up from a hammock nap to find a tarantula staring right at me (eye to eye… well actually my two eyes to his too-many eyes). She immediately chased him off with a rolled up magazine. No hesitation.
Not only did she inspire me to take action and be a leader, but I also learned not to nap on rainforest hammocks.
Don’t Spectate, Participate.
My grandmother was never one to stand on the sidelines. If she wanted something done, she did it. When she and my grandfather traveled, they didn’t just observe new cultures, they immersed themselves in them. On their trip to India, my grandfather designed a wing of a hospital and my grandmother jumped in as a nurse while they were there.
Life is meant to be lived, not waited for or watched. She had an amazing life and her spirit lives on in everyone she influenced. So in her spirit, I want you all to realize that you are lucky enough to have right now. And right now is a world full of possibilities. What will you do with them?
We lost my grandmother on Valentine's Day, 2016. She will be greatly missed, but her legend will live on.