Where We Come From

I have this awesome picture of my grandmother riding a camel in front of a pyramid. She obviously was in Egypt at the time that picture was taken. As a kid, and even when I got older, I used to love hearing her stories of visiting “The Holy Lands”, eating snake on a plane (no joke), and people at the table getting their plates taken away too soon because of the way they placed their knife on the plate during dinner. (Apparently a knife laid across the top of your dinner plate means that you've finished eating in some countries.) My grandmother was always ready for some new adventure. She loved going places and meeting new people. I was thinking about this today while sitting on my deck drinking my protein shake when I literally said out loud, “Guess that's where I get it from.”

I get so bored so easily. Now I don’t mean day to day. I always can find something to do and I usually do-but just with places and routines in general. Scenery. Stuff. I realized many years ago that I wanted to see everything, go everywhere, and meet everybody. Growing up my dream was to live in a place for only a few years before moving on to somewhere else. I never intended to live in a one place forever. I still don’t. I get my adventuresome spirit and desire to teach from my grandmother.

My dad is a man who’s kind of like gravity. He walks in a room and all heads turn his way no matter how quietly he may enter. People are just drawn by this invisible force to be near him-like gravity. They want to be around him and get close to him. He can get along with anyone. He even knows when people are just full of bull crap, but he smiles and nods, and shows them a level of compassion and dignity like no one else can. He’d give someone the clothes off his back if he could. He truly wants people to feel good and cared for.

I get that from my dad too. I may not be exactly gravity, but I tend to “gravitate” and “happen upon” people in need of a little compassion and caring. (I love the story of Ruth in the Bible which states the Ruth just “happened’ to be gleaning in the field of Boaz. Even God has a sense of humor.) I really feel people are important because, well, they are. They need to hear it. Some need to be reminded and others need to be educated. I do my best to look up at people I walk by at the lake or downtown and smile and, if I can, say something like “Hello,” or “Beautiful day.” That’s the only kindness some may receive that day so I make sure I give that little gesture that may seem so insignificant. It may be the only part of the day where someone can look back and say, “Someone saw me today.”

My Grandfather could be quite a handful. At times he could be hard. Other times he could be just downright difficult. What I remember most about him though was his cheery laughter. Yes, that hardened man with the determination and will comparable to that of a stubborn bulldog had the most infectious laugh. When I think back on him I remember a man laughing with his whole face and body at whatever tickled him. He had a bit of genius in him too. Well, back woods genius, but genius just the same. The stubbornness of a mule really helped him out in this because if he’d get an idea or project in his head, he just went for it and he didn't care what anyone else said about it. He would keep going until he got what he wanted. And usually the little stinker would find a way to get the scoffers in on the project too.

I get that from my Grandfather. When I have an idea or a vision, I don’t see why I can’t at least try to do it. Just because it’s never been done doesn't mean I won’t be the first person to do it. I work with tenacity and laugh as I go because a great man taught me I have no limits.

My mother has this “get up and go” about her that no one else can seem to keep up with. Seriously.  Though not much of a morning person, she’ll stay up all night cleaning her house or piddling around trying to find something to do. I've never seen a more impressive shopper either. The woman can walk into the most expensive store in the mall and somehow walk out with a dress for less than ten dollars once she’s stacked her savings club coupons on top of sales on top of clearance on top of whatever else she magically has in her wallet. Trust me; you've never seen anything like it. She’s a name brand shopper who buys at garage sale prices. She’s also handy to have in a crisis. If you are in trouble, she’s right there before you can say, “Can you come over?” With no expectation of return I've seen her foster children, get friends in trouble into rehab, offer a job to a single mother she barely knows, and buy groceries for the needy. She doesn't like to be around a lot of kids, but she’ll work in VBS every year and even though it will be extremely tiring and hard on her physically she’ll actually enjoy it and have fun. That’s the other thing about my mom. She loves to have fun and she will find a way to make everything fun. She’s fun to be around and she will find the humor in every situation. I remember when I was a kid, like maybe 4, and I had pneumonia for 3 months (I was always very sick as a child-shocker!) and in order to keep me out of the hospital I had to stay with my grandparents because they only lived 2 miles from the hospital (our house was over 10 miles away). My mom sent balloons to cheer me up and, once, even a clown! When I didn't feel well she’d let me pull out her high heels and try to walk in them. I used to love that. No matter that I was stuck in the house with a disease trying to kill me, my mom found a way for me to have fun!

I believe I have a bit of that in me too. I've been there to post bail for friends involved in “misunderstandings,” sneaked abused women out of their homes when the husbands were gone, and even crawled in the sunroof of an upturned vehicle I saw on the side of the road to check on the unconscious driver and wait for the ambulance with him. Sometimes you just have to act in a crisis and not worry about how it can inconvenience you. Fun is also a great attribute I get from my mom. I really can find the humor in almost anything, sometimes even when it’s inappropriate and I have to stifle some laughter. I definitely get that from my mother! Life is too short to be depressed or serious all the time. Have fun with it!

The list goes on of the people in my life who made me who I am today. I’m still being shaped as I learn from each new person I meet. Maybe you don’t have a biological family you relate to in this way. Instead for you there could be a teacher, guardian, family of a friend, or any number of people in your life that taught you the beauty of life and how to live it well. Maybe you are still learning the big lessons. That’s ok-as long as you are still learning. The people and places we come from don’t have to define us (or in some cases even hold us back), but we can learn valuable lessons by looking at the people around us and the way they live. You can learn what not to do in some circumstances and in others enjoy a richness of positive influence. I’m very thankful to be a blend of a great cast of characters. I’m sure that one day I’ll hear how I’ve influenced someone else and truly those who’ve taught me will have inadvertently passed on their life lessons through me. Think about that when you feel insignificant. The kindness, fun, adventure, compassion, and tenacity you show today may very well pay dividends in the lives of countless others both now and in the future long after you are gone. You are important and what you do and how you live speaks to the world around you. Live well.


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