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Keep on Learning: Grandma Effie's Lesson

Today, I recall with shame that as a teenager, I sometimes found my Grandma Effie annoying. Her intense interest in my grades, clothes, hairstyles, and most of all — my boyfriends frequently seemed like too much. After all, I was a teenager; much too busy to answer all her questions. Besides, didn’t I need some privacy? Grandma Effie did not think I did. And so, with her lively voice and shining eyes, she ‘wondered’ about every aspect of my young life.

Not only did Grandma maintain high levels of interest, she always had a new, grand, moneymaking idea. “This one will make a lot of money, Barbie. This time, I’ll be rich and famous.” Grandma’s various ideas and courses often amused her grandchildren and children. Did she feel discouraged by our attitudes? Oh no! Being aware of our amusement did not slow her down a whit. Onward she charged with gusto and unabated enthusiasm.

In my freshman year at college I made the expected trip home at Thanksgiving. Of course, I visited Grandma Effie, as well as all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. I did not feel the least bit surprised when Grandma announced, “Barbie, I’ve ordered a course in clothes design. I’ve always been good at creating and sewing. Everything I need to learn about designing and selling to pattern companies will be presented in this new class.” I hope that I smiled. I also hope that I provided encouragement. “Yes, Grandma, you have always been talented. This course will definitely pay off for you.” On that note, I returned to school with an endearing story about my aging grandma.

In only a few days, I got a call from Daddy. “Barbie, you have to come home. Grandma Effie died this morning.” “What? How could that be? I saw her only three days ago.” Relatives shared that Grandma tried to live until I could get home. Apparently, she had something to tell me. Most likely, she also had a question to ask.

Often, pain accompanies potent lessons. I stood by her grave and reflected. My grandmother had more excitement and interest during the final days of her life than I did at age eighteen. Something seemed very wrong. While I had been going through the motions of being a college student, Grandma had been living her life as a genuine learner.

Yes, Grandma Effie changed my life. Her ‘silly’ enthusiasm and get-rich schemes no longer seemed entertaining. In her final days, her vitality shone brightly. I realized that my eternal task would be to emulate her passion for life and her zest for learning. I am now at the same age as Grandma when she died, She gave me the gift of a loving life, which I continue to cherish. Thank you, Grandma. If you have any more questions, please let me know.


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