It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives. We generally spend time with people our own age, who think, talk and act like we do. However, recently I have had many opportunities to learn from the elderly women and men around me. These grandmas and grandpas have lived so many years and have an abundance of experiences, good and bad, behind them! I’m a history lover and would much rather learn from the experiences of others than run into the same walls over and over again myself. Although they were born more than half a century before I was, I realized some things really don’t change all that much. I have personally found more peace in my own life each time I have visited with my sweet grandma’s and grandpa’s. Some are actually related to me, and some are not, but I love them all just the same.
My maternal grandmother has lived in my parent’s home for most of my life. And recently my parents also invited my paternal grandparents to live with them. When I feel like my life starts to scatter in a million directions, I find myself talking to one of my grandparents and other men and women who are wiser and older than me. These are only a few of the things I have learned from them as I try to find peace, direction and balance in my own life.
- Love God and Country
My paternal grandparents spent most of their adult lives doing temple work or on missions associated with family history. I spent many weekends in Salt Lake City with Nana and Papa listening to family stories, compiling family binders with pictures and other memories, and helping to type up family notes from recordings into Family Search. To this day, my Papa will send me a little stack of family names that need their temple work done. There was not a single family gathering that went by where my Nana wouldn’t talk to her children and grandchildren about one of our ancestors and how fortunate we were to live in such a blessed land in America. Obviously no one in my family has lived a perfect life, but through the stories and interactions with aunts, uncles and cousins, I really was able to start figuring out who I really was. My heritage and cultural identity is a huge part of who I am. We are inherently divine daughters of our Heavenly Father, but we are also part of an earthly family. When we choose to find these connections we can also improve upon the ways our predecessors lived their lives.
- Be Happy and Optimistic!
I was walking down the streets of Salt Lake City with my 87 year-old Aunt Chris. The time flew by as we talked about all sorts of different things. We talked and walked for several hours. She treated me to a delicious lunch at the Blue Lemon café and our conversation continued. When we finally headed home again it was raining. Like definitely raining. I had actually curled my hair that day and wanted to walk through the buildings so I wouldn’t get my hair wet. (I have four kids, remember, so on a good day I shower OR do my hair, but not both!) Aunt Chris said, “Is it really raining? I can see it, but I can’t really feel it, so lets just walk down the sidewalk.” She was so pleasant about that not-so-awesome rain. It was definitely raining…but she had the prettiest smile on her face and her curls were staying in perfectly fine even as they glistened with little rain droplets. After listening to her share many of her life’s trials and successes I realized that she had consciously made the decision to be happy inspite of the trials she faced. She was graciously walking in the rain. It’s a choice.
- Always Serve
If I don’t call my 85 year-old grandma Rosa, she calls me at least every other day. She says, “What can I do to help? Just let me know and I’ll be ready.” She has severe arthritis in her hands but that doesn’t slow her down much. When a sister in the ward needs a friend, or a meal she always volunteers. She feeds the hungry missionaries, crochets blankets for the NICU and finds time to babysit any grandchildren or great-grand children who will obey. She has ALWAYS been this way! When I ask her why she serves so much when she could just be chilling in her final years of life, she said it gives her a reason to wake up in the morning if she knows she can help someone else. Her aches and pains subside a little and she enjoys the company. She has become one of my closest friends and faithful listener. Imagine how rich our lives would be if we went to bed at night and woke up thinking about ways we could serve others?!
- Hard Work
One thing that impressed me while visiting teaching with my first companion in my new ward was how willing she was to work hard in life. As we have shared the messages from our leaders each month and as they have each shared stories from their own family and professional lives, I have learned so much. She is a convert to the church and is always willing to serve in any capacity. She was a health teacher for about 30 years and loves to work with the youth. I could relate to her in many ways because I’ve also worked with children as a teacher for the past 10 years as well. Even now that she is retired she thought she’d find an enjoyable job a couple of days a week to stay busy. She doesn’t like to just visit our other sisters in the ward to say that our job is finished. She genuinely inquires about their lives, visits some of them more than once a month, remembers birthdays and finds time to also make ME feel loved! I always leave wanting to be a little more like her.
I have to end with a little Latin flare about family history in a song my husband, Alex Melecio, wrote with David Archuleta for Roots Tech 2015 titled, “Nunca Pense (I Never Thought).” Before one of his performances David said, “Too often we don’t think about those who blazed the trail before us, but when we look back to them we find a part of ourselves.” Have fun using all of your Spanish skills from high school and college classes as you sing along with this song! https://youtu.be/tDU3EBSpwxg