Opinion: The lessons I’ve learned from my grandmother

Lyndsey Schley

Lyndsey Schley

Contact Lyndsey Schley at [email protected].

Last Wednesday, my grandparents were in a car crash. Luckily, all injuries were minor, but the incident made me think how important my grandmother has been in my life. She has taught me so many things, some small, like how to make fudge, and others that have shaped who I am today.

My grandmother has lived through leukemia, a heart attack, diabetes and a kidney removal. It wasn’t easy. They almost had to cut off her wedding ring after the heart attack made her hands swell. The chemo lowered her stamina. Just picking up a carton of milk at the store was a feat. She would get nauseous all the time, a hard break for a woman who has always loved food.

She never gave up in any of those situations. She had relatives who had stopped fighting their cancer, but to her, that idea was never an option. For her family and friends, she has proved time and again that she would do anything.

My grandma taught me never to give up, because when things hit bottom, they can only get better. When I had to have an appendectomy and bowel dissection and had to drop out of school last February, I used my grandmother as my guide. I worked on my recovery and stayed positive and hopeful for the future.

Now, you wouldn’t believe that she’s lived through these things (my friends have told me they don’t even believe that she’s 73). My grandmother does water aerobics three times a week, walks the dog three times a day and has recently begun eating an all-natural diet.

That leads me to another lesson: It is never too late to make a change. My grandmother has recently started to eat types of foods she had never tried before, such as chicken curry or hummus and falafel. She’s tried to eliminate all sugar from her diet. She and my grandfather adopted a dog a few years ago, after not owning one for decades.

The biggest change she’s made in her life is quitting smoking, which she did about 20 years ago. A relative of hers had passed away due to cigarette smoking. She has told me that whenever she wanted to smoke, she pictured her relative having his lungs pumped while his family watched in horror. She said it was still one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do, but she wanted to make sure she never did that to her family.

That brings me to the last lesson: Always think of others. My grandmother is one of the most selfless people I know. She’s always trying to do what’s best for our family (even if they won’t admit it). Thinking about others before yourself is the most admirable thing someone can do. It goes against our every instinct, but that’s just what you do for the people you love.

I would be a worse person without my grandmother. Grandma, I know you’re reading this, so I’m just going to tell you I love you, and I’m so glad you’re in my life.