My grandmother worked for a school for wayward boys for 40 years. Although she held various positions during her tenure there, I think the one that she was most proud of was her last one where she served as warehouse manager. She ran a meticulous warehouse that was responsible for inventory of all the supplies that came in and out of the campus.Those who knew her, knew that she was one that was not afraid of hard work. It was in her DNA and she lived her life that way. Any task that she asked her employees to do she did herself. It didn’t matter if it was bookkeeping, cleaning, rearranging or even driving the forklift. You could eat off the floor in her warehouse and she demanded excellence not only from her employees, but also from herself.
When she finally decided to retire, there were a lot of sad people on the campus. They all got together and threw her a party. In addition, they collected money and gave her a trip to the Bahamas for two. I was the lucky recipient of the second slot on the trip and grandma and I set off to celebrate her retirement. Now most people would think that going on vacation with your grandmother wouldn’t exactly be ideal. But I will tell you that for me it was a trip of a lifetime. Not only did I get to experience another place, I got to experience it through her eyes and that made it special and created memories that have lasted a lifetime.
We experienced the local culture, shopped in the local shops and dined on the local food. I especially remember the conch fritters. However, there was a particular experience that stands out, that I have to share. In our hotel, they had a Las Vegas style show that we had tickets to attend as part of the trip package. We were excited to see the glitz and glamor of it all. As we sat in our seats and the show started, the show girls started to parade out on the stage and I quickly noticed that they were topless. I was completely horrified. I couldn’t even look at my grandmother. But when I finally did she was stoic, no expression at all on her face. I crouched down on my seat held my breath and we made it through. After the show, not a word of what we had just experienced, and I sure wasn’t going to bring it up.
My point of the story is this. As life goes by we are presented with opportunities to create memories with those that we love. It is so important to take advantage of those opportunities when we have the chance. Doing so gives us a book full of wonderful memories that stay with us long after our loved one is gone. Failing to do so creates missed opportunities that we don’t get a second chance to experience. When I was visiting my grandmother in the last days of her life, I didn’t see the small frail woman that was sitting in the wheelchair in front of me. I saw the vibrant strong woman that walked on the beach with me in the Bahamas, that took me for a ride on the forklift in her warehouse and that remained calm and stoic while I was horrified during the show. I knew that although she didn’t remember me outwardly, that somewhere deep inside we were still walking on the beach in the Bahamas together.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.