Now I don’t mean to be all morbid here. But it was my grandparents (both now deceased) who taught me THE most important lessons of life.
I had always thought that I would feel a sense of achievement in my life if I were to succeed in whatever I put my hand to. Whether it be making money, being a leader, playing a sport, mastering an art or simply just traveling. I expected to feel proud and satisfied with my life if I could look back on it and tick off those achievements.
It was as I went through the process of grieving for my Nana that I began to understand what is really important. She was a wonderful person. One of those people that you could talk to about anything; without judgement or bias she would offer her insight and her encouragement and her unwavering love and support.
When she died, we all talked about how she lived on in all of us. Her light, her warmth and wisdom, her generous heart and forgiving nature were freely available in all of us that she left behind. She left a legacy of far greater value than any trust fund or estate, she left a legacy of love, encouragement, strength, wisdom and overwhelming acceptance of every human being ever put on this earth.
I can’t even put in to words the depth of values she left for me. It was she that taught me, that there is no greater gift in life than to love and be loved (beyond what you can believe is possible) by others.
My nana always used to say to me “You chase your dreams moko (the NZ Maori word for grandchild), you chase your dreams”. She gave me permission at every single time I saw her, to be who I was, and to chase after the finest version of myself. Have I done that? No, not by a long shot. But I haven’t given up.
When Nana passed away, Grandpa was bereft. He mourned her loss so deeply, and you could see that every day was a torment of missing her. But he soldiered on. He didn’t give up on life simply because he was sad.
Many of us wanted to do anything we could to console him. Buy him anything, take him anywhere. But nothing brought him comfort… except his whanau (family). Just being with him, talking with him. Letting him hear the chatter and laughter, uproarious laughter, of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As he saw little nana’s running around the house full of energy, others standing up for what they believe is right, others working away studiously to make our home comfortable, and others that would sit and listen to someone who needed to talk and be loved and accepted.
He showed me in that last one and half years of his life, that even though he was sad without nana, he had built a life that he could now be proud of. He and Nana left a legacy of strong, kind, resourceful and hard working people. People who loved each other and those around them. Who seek a life greater than just fulfilling themselves.
And they left behind a grand-daughter, who now seeks to be as fulfilled as they were.