lessons from grandma carol
Today, at her memorial service, I will talk about three lessons I learned from my grandma. And since 91-year lives are full of wisdom, I thought I would share them here too.
- Appreciate the hidden signs of quality. My grandma spent several summers when I was a kid trying to teach me how to sew for 4H. We spent a lot of time on hemming as she insisted that hem stitches, done by hand, were not be seen - a true sign of a quality skirt. I am still not much of a seamstress but I did learn that quality is often in what we do not see. And I've learned this lessons applies to far more than sewing.
- Look forward, don't look back. After college my grandma worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Then she got married and moved to Indiana. When she applied for a job at the local Eli Lilly lab, they asked how fast she could type - they did not hire women to work in the lab. So she went and got her teaching license instead. A lot of school children in my hometown benefited from that change of plans. She was always honest about this and other turns in the road she had but she kept moving.
- Don't be afraid to be you, even it means sticking out. My grandma loved the poem "When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple." I don't remember her literally wearing much purple but she had the spirit of the book down well before old age. As one example, for years she was an active member of the local homemakers club, despite the fact that she was an unabashedly bad cook. She loved the people and, in general, never shied away from an experience for fear that she might not fit in.
I still struggle with all these lessons, and to be honest she probably did sometimes too. Still I feel blessed to have spent so much time with her growing up.
RIP Carol McElroy Foster 1923-2014