30 August 2012 ~ 4 Comments

Lessons in Gratitude from Grand-Mama

As I drove to my grandmother’s house (We called her Grand-mama, pronounced like the grandma in Bewitched) last week after she passed away, I started to think about her life and I started to feel a little bit of anger welling up inside of me. I was angry, not just because she was gone, but because during her life I never felt like she was able to lead the fabulous life that matched her personality. She did not have the easiest life. She had a difficult upbringing and married young to an abusive man. She was later left alone, trying to find work with little education in order to raise six children.

She never had much money, never got to take fabulous vacations, or live in a gorgeous home, or even find true love. As she grew older she developed sarcoidosis, which little by little chipped away at her her ability to get up and go and rock a fabulous pair of heels, both things that were close to her heart. As I rode to her house I wondered: Why did life have to be so hard for my grandmamma? Even her death didn’t come peacefully.

As we went through her things we found that she kept notebooks full of journals where just about every day she would write down her thoughts to God. Reading through the journals she left, I realized one thing: I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and in the jobs that I’ve had I’ve met some people with money to burn. I’ve never met anyone more grateful for everything that had than my grandmother. My grandmother did not look at her life and see the things that she didn’t have. Every day, every single day, my grandmother was grateful.

When her car, which she loved, started breaking down and she knew she wasn’t going to have money to fix it, she didn’t write about how upset she was that her car was about to break down. She didn’t even ask God for a new car. She wrote “Thank you God, for giving me another day to be able to drive my car.” When she was stuck in her house, either because of snow, or because her body was just that wrought with pain, she didn’t pray the snow away, and she didn’t complain about her body hurting, she wrote “Thank God, I can praise you where I am.” While most of us grumble getting out of bed on Monday morning, she thanked God for Monday mornings and being able to leave her house so that she could work to serve others and was grateful for being strong enough to serve in the church kitchen on Sundays.

I am still reading through her journals that go back more than 12 years, and I can say that I have never met anyone with such a strong spirit of gratitude for every day. In her honor, I plan to devote Thursdays on this blog to my Grandmama and her grateful spirit by taking time to reflect on what I have been blessed with this day, large or small.

Today I am grateful for my siblings. For my sister, because I sometimes take for granted that your sister is supposed to be your best friend, and for many that isn’t the case. I am thankful that I have a best friend that I never had to meet or make, but that was just born and handed over to me. And my brother, because even though he’s been driving me crazy since the 80s, I don’t know what I would do without him.

Join me. What are you grateful for today?



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4 Responses to “Lessons in Gratitude from Grand-Mama”

  1. Alan Gray 3 September 2012 at 1:52 am Permalink

    It took me a long time, but I eventually worked out that you can be happy with whatever you have, but you can also be miserable with what you have. It is your choice. Thank you Aja, I’m grateful for you posting your story.

    • Aja Jackson 3 September 2012 at 6:26 pm Permalink

      Thank you for your comment Alan. It is a lesson that I haven’t completely mastered, but I’m working on getting better at every day.

  2. Susan Cooper 4 September 2012 at 6:15 pm Permalink

    What a lovely post. We can learn so much from our Grandma’s, can’t we. I especially loved the part about her car and being grateful for one more day. We all should learn the art of gratitude. I especially like your idea for devoting Thursdays to your Grandma. :-)

    • Aja Jackson 6 September 2012 at 3:06 am Permalink

      Thanks so much Susan. I feel like I’m understanding more of the things that she taught me now that I am getting older and she is gone. My only regret is not having recognized the importance while she was still here.

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