Almost exactly two years ago, I sat across from my grandma as she blew out the candles on her birthday cake. Her 93rd birthday cake. She laughed, and she cried. I remember watching her eyes glisten as I told her I couldn’t imagine having ninety-three birthday cakes. She squeezed my hand and said, “Neither can I, honey. Neither can I.”
Exactly two years ago, she passed away. It was entirely unexpected. At the time, I couldn’t comprehend what I lost – a second mother, the finest cook, a certified spitfire, our family’s historian, the best spare-change finder I’ve ever known. While I still can’t put pen to paper well enough to convey the weight of that loss, I can finally articulate some of the real wisdom she imparted, the insight that became the catalyst for this blog.
- Pick up pennies. All of them. Even if other people walk right past them. Even if other people look at you strangely.
- Save your pennies. The ones you find and the ones you earn. Even if other people don’t. Even if other people look at you strangely. Keep some in a Pringles can. Put most of them in the bank.
- Spend wisely. Every purchase you make should push you a little bit closer to your goals. Whether your goal is to have the best damn shoe collection at ninety-three or to buy a home as a widowed mother in the 1960s when everyone told you it was impossible.
- Give. Even if you think you can’t. Even if you could be on the receiving end of charity. There is always be someone less fortunate than you.
- Gamble a bit. Let everyone at the table underestimate you, and then surprise them every time. Don’t let it go to your head.
- Keep smiling. No matter the circumstances you’ve been dealt, greet each day as a new opportunity. Laugh when your granddaughter calls you for help with a paper on the Great Depression, and she’s disappointed to hear your family was just as poor before the Depression as they were after. Situations and hardships undeniably influence your future, but you are the one who ultimately determines it.
- Remember it’s only money. Rich or poor, you can’t take it with you. The true measure of your life is the sum of how you spend your days, not the sum of your bank account.
So Tell Me…What’s the best lesson you ever learned from a grandparent?