Monday, August 23, 2010

An Authentic Life - Lessons from Grandma Irene

My grandmother Alice Irene Mozzochi graced my life for 25 years. Tragically, we had to say goodbye to her on August 17, 1999, twenty-four hours before her great-grandson Tristan would finally grace us with his presence (19 days after a failed induction of labor, of which she so lovingly said 'he'll come when he's ready, he's on his own time, not ours'). To think that my own mother said good-bye to her mom, removing her from life support, within twenty-four hours of saying hello to her grandson still astounds me.

Each year that life goes on without grandma Irene I strive to live my life by her example. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt she's proud of the woman I'm becoming, even if she didn't always agree with the paths I'd chosen. In honor of her authentic life, I'm passing along some of the most important lessons I've taken from my short time with her. Enjoy.

Children & Family ~ Adversity at home doesn't mean it's always going to be that way. You fail forward in life and in love. You don't stay in bad relationships or marriages, you move on, no matter what society or anyone else says. Only you know what's right for you.

YOU protect your children at all costs and if they're kidnapped from you by their other parent, you drop everything, track them down, and get your child back. Give your babies everything you can, teach them right from wrong and be tough when it counts the most. Love them unconditionally and spoil them when you can. Teach them respect and balance. Teach them to give to others. Dress them fabulously.
Marriage ~ Marry the man who can't live without you, is crazy in love for you, who would go to the end of the world to provide and protect you and your children. Marry the man who respects you, himself and others. The man who puts his family first, who can forgive, who can have unconditional love. Date long into your relationship, into parenthood, into retirement. Travel if you can. Shop together and cook together if you can. Have separate areas in your home that are yours and yours alone, a place to go for you, to clear your head and to do something you love. Grandma Irene had her sewing room and Grandpa Mo had his record collection/den/man cave in the basement. Separate bathrooms are a good thing too, as are closets and dressers. Have your own friends and have joint friends that you share. Dress your man fabulously. Go out and have fun!

Never let a man who doesn't respect himself or you have influence on your life. You tough it out and you demand only the best because you are the best thing any God fearing man could ever want in his life to be his wife and the mother of his children. Do not settle.

Religion & Politics - If you don't like confrontation, arguments or strong points of view, then it's always a good rule of thumb to keep discussions and debates about politics and religion in your home. It's now what church you go to, what book(s) you read, or what you talk about with others, it's how you live your life, day in and day out that shows others your beliefs. Do for yourself but always lend a helping hand, a meal, or a moment of your time to those who need it most.

Christmas - If you celebrate Christmas, be sure to sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus on Christmas. Candle in the pie or dessert is optional but always fun too! Also, if you go to church on Christmas or Christmas Eve go for the service with the music and kids choir. Gingerbread house making and decorating is a family tradition, don't forget about it and if you're feeling really adventurous, the family ravioli recipe is a Christmas tradition too.

Thanksgiving - Never skimp on the appetizers. Nuts, cheeses, crackers, etc. - go all out, it's Thanksgiving and you never know who'll stop by or be tagging along. Thanksgiving dinner is always open to friends of the family, neighbors, etc. who don't have a family or friends to get together with that year. Make a list of what you're eating because if you don't something always gets left in the microwave/oven/fridge only to be remembered when it's time for pie and football. If you can afford it, get a house with a large kitchen that opens to the dining room, it makes life so much easier.

Document Things - Journals, photographs, calendars, take notes, notice what's going on in life. Take the time to be in the moment of life. I learned after my grandmother passed that she kept annual diaries of her day to day doings. Sometimes I pick one up off of her bookshelf and open it to sneak a peak at her life. She always was grateful, even when she didn't feel good. She loved to celebrate family and friendships. She loved my grandfather like no other and adored her daughters to the ends of the earth. I was her one and only granddaughter until Frances married Brian and Austin came into our lives. ;) For five years she was the happiest grandmother on the planet. So if you can, definitely keep a record of those things worth cherishing. I learned so much more about her and was able to carry on our long and wonderful conversations after her death because of those journals.

Also, she was always really great about keeping track of who was in photos too, something we tend to lose track of in a digital world if we're not uploading and tagging right away. Even today I go to scan in old childhood photos and I can't remember full names or names period. So sad. :(

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