My Grandmother; The 103 Year Old Guru

Everyone in my family; my mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on, were gossipy, angry, miserable, grudge-holding, and so full of drama.  Everyone.  What a terrible existence. 

My Grandmother was the oldest of nine children (my aunts and uncles) and she attended each of their funerals.  She attended my mother’s funeral as well; her own daughter.  Very sad.

Clara lived to 103 and fully functional.  She had love in her heart.  Peace.  How?  With everyone around her with their darkness, drama, and misery, how did she not succumb to it all? 

Everyone congregated at her house to dump whatever their drama was that day onto her kitchen table.  With angry faces, they’d talk about this cousin or that person, spewing hatred and dirty laundry.  My grandmother, enjoying her sip of coffee, would often respond with, “Eh …” as she shrugged her shoulders. 

Oh, this would really piss them off.  “Dammit Clara, you don’t understand!” 

I used to think she understood completely and that was her answer, but I’ve thought about this so much over the years and maybe she didn’t understand.  Here’s why I think that’s possible:

She was sent here on a boat when she was in her single digits and went through the processing of Ellis Island back when Teddy Roosevelt was President.  A victim of an arranged marriage to a man very much older that her (my grandfather).  She took lots of backhands to the face.  She ran from him with her children to make it on her own.  Scrubbed floors to put food on the table.  When lightning struck their home, caving the roof in, she asked for support from her Catholic church; the one in which she volunteered at and supported for many years.  They responded with nothing.  She turned her back on the church and religion as whole after that.  Many decades later, she took in my grandfather, whom was dying.  She gave him a bedroom and fed him; supported him with no love for the man until he died.  She gave him a nice funeral.

Anyways, how could this woman understand someone’s bullshit drama?  She lived a damn movie!  Why would anyone want to create drama in their life?  But, then I think, maybe her “Eh …” response was pure wisdom.  The only kind that can come from such a journey as hers. 

Either way, Clara continued on with peace, love, forgiveness, giving, empathy, and acceptance.  She was huge on forgiveness.  Yeah, she lived to 103.  She was my guru. 

I want to live to 103, just like her.

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