My grandmother is 93 years and 1 day old today.
I’m not one of those millennials who thinks they’ll never be 40, or that 40 is “old,” thereby making everyone over 40 feel like a relic.
In fact, I don’t even think of 93 as old. But when I think about my grandmother being alive for 93 years and 1 day, I think, “That’s just a lot of life.”
I have trouble imagining having lived that much life.
This week, I showed someone a picture that was taken when I was in high school. I had to point to my 16 year old self and say, “That’s me with long hair.” Me with long hair feels like another person, a completely different life. And yet, that was only 12 years ago. How many lives has my grandmother lived?
Sometimes when I visit her, I ask her to tell me stories. She’s told me about jumping over a rattlesnake when she was a child and about not telling her boss she was pregnant because he would have fired her on the spot. She’s told me quite a few stories, almost always at my urging. But I will never be able to hear about her whole life. I will never know exactly what she did in all the little moments, the inconsequential-feeling pieces of her life. There are just too many. In fact, she can’t even remember them all, and her memory is just as good as mine!
But I think back on some of my memories of my grandmother.
She raked leaves into huge piles simply so I could jump in them, raking again and again as I flattened the piles out.
She made me sandwiches and sent me into the woods to eat them, saying, “It’s too pretty out there to eat in here!”
She rushed to help me when I fell off my bike, her calm and steady hands wiping blood away from my wounds.
What to her were just little pieces of everyday life are to me memories of the sweet, patient, kind, strong woman she has always been.
We learn who people are by the way they live the everyday things, more than by how they react to the big moments.
And so, as I reflect on my own 28 years and 8 months and 1 day of life, I want to be more like my namesake: living consistently and patiently in the little, everyday moments. I will never remember all the pieces of life I have lived, even if I only live another year. But I can look back on my whole life and remember how I lived. And hopefully others will, too.