Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy 94th Birthday Mimi!

Today, my beautiful, wonderful grandmother is 94 years old! She is my last living grandparent, and we have always had a close relationship. My Mimi is the mother to four children: two daughters and two sons (one of which is my father), grandmother to nine grandchildren: five grandsons and four granddaughters  (I am number five, right in the middle), and great-grandmother to four beautiful great-granddaughters. Born in 1917, she has survived the great depression, cancer, and the loss of her husband of nearly 65 years. She is, to me, the model of strength and poise, and today, I'd like to share some of the many lessons I learned from her.

I can still remember childhood summers visiting Mimi's house. I loved to listen to her stories. We saw movies, shopped, and enjoyed great food that she cooked, and there were girls my age in the neighborhood to play with. Mimi taught me the importance of listening at a young age, which I think contributed to my love of writing stories about other people. She also helped to instill manners and etiquette in me. My first thank-you notes were to my Mimi, and I try to never forget to write one today! She taught me to value the dollar, and to not spend money on things I didn't really need. If I had an argument with one of the girls down the street, my Mimi would advise me to apologize, and she taught me how to be genuine when doing so. She helped me learn how to maintain friendships, a skill I am thankful for in my adult life. Mimi taught me the importance of taking care of others. Even now that she uses a walker, she is still always trying to tend to the needs of everyone around her. I suppose it is that maternal instinct kicking in; she has always been a wonderful hostess and tries to make everyone feel at ease. She also helps people out when they need it. She sees the best in everyone and extends trust to them.
My grandmother is still sharp as a tack! She plays Bridge, does crossword puzzles, and reads books constantly. She has nurtured my love of reading and writing, and has been an example to me of the freedom and escape that a good book offers. My grandmother set aside money to help with the college education of all her grandchildren, and my attendance at NYU as an undergrad was made possible, in large part, because of the financial support her and my grandfather gave me. Education was important to them, and they wanted all of us to succeed in school. I'm proud to say that this year, my grandmother has lived to see her two youngest grandchildren, my cousins Julian and Elena, begin college, and she has seen her first seven grandchildren finish college.

Everything in my grandmother's life didn't always go the way she wanted it to. Like all of us, she has faced her share of hardships, but what she taught me, is that life truly is what you make of it. You have to accept the things that do not go your way, and you cannot let those experiences leave you bitter or heartbroken. Life isn't easy. Mimi's advice: eat healthy, do not take too many medications, sit out in the sun for a little bit each day, forgive other people, accept your body's limitations and do the best to take care of yourself, love as many people as possible, and desire the best for everyone in your life.

As an adult, I have had many visits to my grandmother's house. I always look forward to staying up late with her and talking, I never run out of questions to ask her. Mimi gives the best advice about relationships, and it brings me great peace that she has been able to meet Brendan. I think she put it best when she said to me, "it seems that everything will work out for you dear." I am happy that she knows I have found my way.

My grandmother is proud of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She loves us all, and knows us each individually, and I believe she is probably more acutely aware of our strengths and weaknesses than we are. I once asked her if she was afraid of dying. She said she had no fears, that she felt she had made the most of her life and had made the best choices that she could. She said she had no regrets. I think we should all hope to be able to say the same one day.

I love you Mimi! Happy 94th birthday!

My grandmother in her early 20s
Mimi (front), with her 2 daughters, 4 granddaughters, and 3 of 4 great-granddaughters at 90th b-day.
A part of her legacy: last Austin family reunion with children, grandchildren, great-grands, spouses & partners!
Here's to Mimi's 94th! Of course, I plan to call her tonight, right now though, she's playing bridge!

<3 S, L&Z

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