Menu
Announcement: Want to share your story in the next Tiny Buddha book? Learn more here!

4 Powerful Lessons from a Life Well Lived

Lori and Grammy

“We must each lead a way of life with self-awareness and compassion, to do as much as we can. Then, whatever happens we will have no regrets.” ~Dalai Lama

This year on June 4th, one of my greatest heroes passed away.

I’d been planning to travel back to Massachusetts mid-month for my sister’s bridal shower, but I learned at the end of May that my grandmother was in the hospital.

I knew she’d been in rehab since she’d fractured her hip, but I didn’t know she’d gained 30 pounds of water weight and her kidneys would soon fail her.

After my family told me it didn’t look good, I came home on the red eye on the 2nd, hoping to hear her voice one last time. She was too medicated to speak when I arrived, but I was able to sit with her and more than a dozen of my family members for all of June 3rd.

There were so many of us there, unwilling to leave her side, that the hospital staff opened the adjoining room, where we set up a table with cold cuts and sub rolls for lunch.

It was exactly what she would have wanted, and a testament to the legacy she left behind: Her huge, loving family stayed there, together, offering her the love and strength she’d given us for years.

My mother asked me to write and deliver her eulogy—which was both a challenge and an honor. She’d touched so many people’s lives, including mine, and in that moment no words seemed sufficient.

I feared I wouldn’t do her justice, but I knew that if she were still around she’d be proud of me, no matter what I wrote.

I am who I am in large part because of my Grammy, Jeanne Santoro (and her late husband Henry “Grandpa Joe” Santoro, to whom I dedicated my book).

So now I’d like to share with you some of the lessons that have stuck with me the most. Grammy, you taught me that….

1. Life is a gift.

Many of us take for granted that we’ll wake up healthy in the morning until we have a reason to believe otherwise. Grammy got that reason when she was just a child.

At eight years old, after already losing her mother, she came down with strep throat in a time when there were no antibiotics. That infection led to Rheumatic Fever and a three-year hospitalization.

She was the only one of dozens of children in her ward to walk out of that hospital—and she never failed to remember that she was fortunate to be alive.

Through the years Grammy had heart surgery, broke a hip, fractured the other, and fought off a potentially lethal virus, but she never once complained. She didn’t feel unlucky to have her share of struggles; she felt grateful for the strength to survive them.

It can seem like such a cliché to say that life is a gift, but no moment beyond this one is ever guaranteed. We can lament the challenges we face in life, or remember we’re fortunate we’re here, right now, capable of growing through them.

2. Kindness and strength can go hand in hand.

As part of a big, loud Italian family, I’ve heard my fair share of choice words shouted, in both love and frustration—but never once from Grammy.

She never said a bad word about anybody, and she couldn’t bring herself to deceive anyone in anyway.

One time when my grandfather was a young man, he asked her to tell someone who’d called on the phone that he wasn’t home.

Unwilling to tell a lie, she asked him to open the door and stick his leg outside. This way, she was being truthful when she told the caller, “I’m sorry; he just put his foot out the door!”

Decades later, she became a full-time caregiver when my grandfather lost both of his legs to an infection. Despite her tiny size, she lugged around his wheelchair so they could stay social and involved.

I was too young at the time to realize just how much assistance my grandfather required. In retrospect, I’m amazed they both smiled and laughed so frequently.

But it wasn’t just her positive attitude and strength that impressed everyone so much. Perhaps because she survived childhood trauma, Grammy was unimaginably brave.

After my grandfather passed, she fought off muggers on two separate occasions. Though she got two black eyes on one of them, she kept her purse both times, earning her the nickname “Grambo.”

Grammy was a fighter, but she was never combative. She knew it’s possible to be both gentle and strong—that the opposite of aggressive isn’t always passive; that there can be power in peace.

3. Love is a verb.

Writing Grammy’s eulogy was both difficult and easy. It was difficult for the obvious reasons, and easy because she embodied every positive quality you could name.

Kind, compassionate, generous, and understanding, Grammy always took care of the people around her.

I remember one particular time when she picked me up from elementary school. I was late for some reason and I kept her waiting outside, so I worried she might have been annoyed—especially since the weather wasn’t great.

She said she’d rather wait for me in the car than have me wait for her outside. As a highly impatient kid, I appreciated what this meant: She was willing to be inconvenienced if it saved me from discomfort.

She also had an amazing capacity for selfless giving, both to her family and causes dear to heart—and she never thought to keep score. She didn’t give with expectations; she gave because she enjoyed it.

Just recently I spent some time cleaning her apartment, where we found drawers upon drawers of cards and calendars—all “thank you” gifts from the many charities she supported.

I imagined all the checks she wrote over the years, and knew she gave despite not having much. She gave because she cared.

It sounds like such a simple formula, and it truly is. It doesn’t have to be money, but giving—of our time, our attention, and ourselves—is the greatest display of love.

4. Happiness is appreciating what you have.

Grammy didn’t require lots of money, a big fancy house, or the nicest clothes. If the people she cared about surrounded her, she felt rich and blessed.

Even though she lived in a small apartment with a kitchen that was almost consumed by its table, her door was always open to her family and their friends. It would be like the clown car of holiday homes—completely packed on Christmas Eve and Easter.

She didn’t see this as a sign she needed a bigger space; instead, she felt fortunate to have a big family who actually enjoyed being so close.

Grammy once told my cousin that people who want more are never happy—even when they get everything they ever dreamed of having.

She knew happiness isn’t about wanting more. It’s about truly enjoying what you have.

Today was likely the last day I’ll ever see inside my grandmother’s apartment. It seemed huge when I was a kid, just like her backyard and her garden. Over the years they started to feel smaller (unlike my grandmother who actually was getting smaller—a running joke in our family).

Still, I left that apartment feeling certain I need only what she had: enough, people to share it with, and the capacity to appreciate it.

So today I’d like to leave you with the greatest lesson my Grammy taught through example:

Look around and see what’s precious. Clear your head of all the little things that won’t matter down the line, when you’re looking back at all the times you cherished the most in life, and find a reason to make this moment one of them.

Savor something. Help someone with your talents. Love someone else in action. And let yourself truly enjoy the experience of doing it.

A life well loved is a life well lived. This is our time to do it.


The photo shows me and my grandmother in 2010. Love you Grammy. (Jeanne Bonomo Santoro, April 14, 1930 – June 4th, 2012)

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) & co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you get unstuck & change your life. She's now seeking stories to include in her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges by Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story! For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Cheergirl

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I can only dream of being as good a woman as my grandmothers.
    Yours truly sounds amazing. I am happy for you that you got to know your grandmother well enough to see how amazing she is. I wish more of us would do this.
    Thank you again for sharing.

  • http://exciramedia.com/ Shannon Steffen

    My deepest of condolences and also heartfelt thanks. Sharing your story and learning tips with others will keep your grandmother’s wisdom alive. Just by sharing this post, she will have the opportunity to touch hundreds/thousands of lives around the globe.

    Thank you, Lori, and thank you Jeanne.

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    Sorry to hear about your grandmother’s passing,Lori. It sounds like she has touched your family profoundly with lessons to last a lifetime.

    I liked how she went out of her way to never say anything bad about anyone – a saintly quality:) but still defended herself well enough to earn the name, Grambo!  These are indeed powerful lessons that we can apply to our life everyday – especially today!

  • HaleyMia

    Sorry for yr loss, Lori.  Yr grandmother sounds like a wonderful person, just like her granddaughter!  

  • NK

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounds like a beautiful person inside and out. 

  • AB

    A beautiful, touching tribute to an obviously remarkable woman.  Thank you for sharing your love and your loss.

  • Arlene

    So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.sixsimplerules.com/ David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Lori:

    I know that this was a very difficult time for you. Thank you for sharing this. You were fortunate to have her in your life and we are fortunate to have you in ours.

    Warmest regards,

    David

  • Sashabla

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother and thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to such a special person! 

  • http://www.rebuildyourlifecoach.com/ Harriet Cabelly

    You are fortunate to have had such an incredible person close to you in your life and you are even more fortunate to have the ability – reflectiveness, depth, openness and insightfulness, appreciation -  to be able to cull all of her extraordinary life lessons she lived by example and hold them up for all to see.  So much of how we live is what we see and take in; you take in all of her ‘wonderfulness’.  You clearly get your ‘extraordinariness’ from your grandma.
    If we can live better because of someone else, then that someone has lived a good life and has made a huge difference.  There are many unsung and untapped heroes.  It takes others to notice and bring it out so their song can be sung.
    Thank you for singing her song.  

  • Jonathan

    Your grandmother clearly knew what was important in life. And I have no doubt she thrilled that you do too.

  • Fay

    Lori, my deepest sympathy to you for your loss.  You didn’t mention another precious gift your “Grammy” had…you!!!  Thank you for all you do in the world.

  • Dhyana

    beYOUtiful — your grandmother and your writing about her…   thank you for sharing it…

  • Lily

    That was very inspiring, thank you so much for sharing. I am, like you, fortunate to have a sweet Italian grandma, and your post just reinforced what I already knew, that we have to enjoy the company of those we love to the fullest while we can. I hope to pass away like she did, surrounded by the love of my family. My deepest sympathies.

  • Amy

    Lori, your Grammy would be so proud. What a gift she has given you, and you have given all of us. She’s so similar to my Grammy, whom I miss each day. But these women have made us so special, and they go on in us. Very sorry for your loss; it will get easier but will always be there. 

  • Dominique

    An inspirational tribute.   Thank you xx

  • http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole/TheMadlabPost

    What a lovely post in memory of your “Grambo” — she sounds like a gentle soul who survived any and all odds that came her way. Based on what you wrote, I think that her legacy continues to live on in you, since you’ve helped many people with your book and the work that you do, sharing stories of strength, survival through an endless source of learning and community for all who seek the information and/or human connections. May your memories of her always bring a smile to you and your family. Take care.

  • Kathi

    Thank you so much for sharing this (and the great photo!)  I just spent a weekend with part of my family; we don’t get much time together these days because of distance but, more importantly, because another one of my family members is going through cancer treatment and much time is spent helping her on this stage of her journey.  My loved ones will all be leaving in a few hours and I expect to shed some tears but each one of the Powerful Lessons you’ve shared will help me today.  I will read this again this afternoon when things quiet down and again be grateful for all that I have.

  • LadyTamborine

    Lori, just as grammy gave you lessons, you are giving us lessons.  Thank you for paying it forward. 

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    So precious.  Life is a gift – so is this testimony to a life lived with so much love and kindness.  My condolences on having to go on with only memories.  I’m glad they’re so lovely.

    We should all ponder the eulogies that will one day be spoken about us and practice to remove the things we wouldn’t want to hear, and to add the beautiful things not yet there :)

  • MP

    My condolences on the loss of your dear Grammy. Thank you for sharing the life lessons you have learned from her. Reading this brought tears to my eyes and makes me miss my own Grandma who lives alone in India. Thank you for reminding me that I need to hold on to every memory of her and let her know how much she is cherished.

    “A life well loved is a life well lived. This is our time to do it.”–these words are going to stay with me for a while. I bet your Grammy is looking down at you now and beaming with pride!

  • GR

    This has touched my heart. Deepest sympathy for your loss. This is so true for my grandmother in so many ways! Thank you for sharing this

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for sharing the beauty and love of your Grammy! How uplifting to read your lovely words as you describe what a beautiful soul your grandmother was!  It is easy to see that you to have many of those qualities which you share with us every day!  Thank you! You are truly blessed to have had her in your life … and she will always be a part of you, she will always be with you in your heart and her light will always shine through the stories you share of her!  This is very inspiring.  Love to you!

  • SelinaEvansonlly

    thank you very much. this is great!

  • Pamann247

    Wonderful remembrance!! This could easily have been written by me about my grandmother!! She is forever by my side and in my heart! Hats off to all the grandmothers like ours who were lightyears past their peers in attitude and strength! :-)

  • http://simplerlifetoday.com/ Vlad | simpler life today

    Lori,
    Very touching post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Karen_tatum

    Beautiful, just beautiful!!

  • CB

    Lori, your wonderful words about your dear “Grammy” really touched me and brought tears to my eyes, too. My sympathies go out to you and your family. You are all blessed to have had such a loving person in your lives.

  • http://www.sweetandsage.com Sage

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I love hearing about fearless, strong-willed, passionate women. It’s obvious that you loved her very much, and you are so fortunate to have known such a kind person. I’m sorry for you loss. Thank you for sharing your grandmother’s wisdom.

  • One Blunt Needle

    Lori, I am deeply sorry for your loss.  Thank you for sharing your Grammy with us.  Your words (and chosen images) have meant so much to so many people.  Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/St_M Marty

    Thanks for sharing Lori – very touching post.
    I always value your insight.

  • Nade1958

    Awwww thanks so much for sharing this and reminding us what truly is important .

  • mai

    Your Grammy continues to bless others. Today, she blessed me through you. What a priceless, limitless gift and privilege it is to be her granddaughter. God bless you, Lori and all that you are and do.

  • Soniyasa

    Thank you lori for sharing a part of your granny’s memories and we fail to remember that this is what keeps us going in life when we are down. Simply what we have been through, going through and will go through – someone in this work past and current have already experienced it or been on worse. Everyone is on a different journey on life and all we can do is give out a vibration that the can tune into and align to the vibration of the universes

  • llexik

    This was very special and yet it made me chuckle as well. “Grambo” and when she made your grandfather stick his leg out the door. You were lucky to have her. I’m also fortunate to have an awesome grandma and I try not to forget it. Thank you for sharing her spirit with us. 

  • Laurie

    Lori, What a blessing your Grammy was to you, your family and everyone lucky enough to have crossed her path! I am so touched at her selflessness, wisdom and capacity to love. How wonderful to have had such a role model and influence, and I know she will continue to guide you throughout your life. Big hugs at your profound loss, but I know you are also celebrating and honoring the great woman she was. Thank you for sharing her with us! ~xo~

  • Eileen

    Lori…I just wandered into your lovely blog…wanted to say… I’m sure you were a blessing to your Grammy – and, she sounds like a wonderful person.  

  • http://www.josephinepennicott.com/ Josephine

    Great post. You made me cry. Grambo sounds a truly inspiring class act.

  • Deb_vo

    Your Grammy had it right!!!! I am sorry for your loss, Lori.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Fay! That’s so nice of you to write. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Harriet. When I signed my book for my grandmother, I wrote that if I had even half of her compassion, kindness, and strength, I’d be proud.  It touches me to know you see in me all the wonderful qualities I saw in her, and then some! Both she and my grandfather were unsung heroes–just amazing people who did good things without looking for credit or reward. I hope am I like them!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much David. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Dhyana, and you’re most welcome. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Deb, and I agree!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Josephine. She was. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Welcome Eileen, and thank you for the kind words. She *was* a wonderful person!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Laurie. She was indeed a blessing! The other day I took some mementos from her apartment, one being this antique looking jewelry box that plays “Strangers in the Night.” I also took a duster that she used to wear and some other items that remind me of her. I know I will think of her often and carry her with me always. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Those stories always make me chuckle too. That’s wonderful you have an awesome Grandma in your life. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks so much. I’m also grateful I got to know her. She was a wonderful role model, and I hope to honor her example in the way I live my life!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Shannon. It makes me feel good to think her stories/lessons have traveled far and wide!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Vishnu. We all called her a saint. She just exuded goodness. I appreciate that you took the time to leave a comment! 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Haley. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you NK. She was!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for the thoughtful note AB, and thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Arlene!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Sashabla!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Jonathan. I think she was proud of me…I hope!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Lily. I hope to pass away like my grandmother, as well–over 80 and surrounded by the big family I loved and enjoyed for years.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Amy. I’m sorry for your loss as well.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks for reading. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    It was a privilege Mai! I’m so grateful that I can keep her memory alive by writing about her here.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. Thank you for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Marty. I appreciate that. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much. I appreciate that you took the time to leave a comment!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Sage. I did love her very much, as did all of my siblings and cousins. She really knew how to love, and she got a lot of love in return.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much CB. I’m glad I was able to visit my family for the last three and a half weeks so I could spend this time with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My grammy lives on in all of us, so it’s meant a lot to me to have this time together.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Karen!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you for reading Vlad!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    It sounds like you had an amazing grandmother. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    She was indeed! She had an inspiring blend of strength and softness. My family has (and has) so many wonderful stories about Grammy. It’s surreal to think she’s gone, but I know she will live on in us.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Sarah! I can think of no greater compliment than to be compared to my grandmother. She was just so good, in every way possible. I appreciate your kind words!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much GR!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Kathi. I’m sorry to learn about your family member who is undergoing cancer treatment. You and your family are in my thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s a great point, about pondering our eulogies. That thought crossed my mind as I was writing hers–that someday, someone would be writing mine. I loved what you wrote here: “practice to remove the things we don’t want to hear, and to add the beautiful things not yet there.” How wonderfully written!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much MP. I’d like to think my Grammy would be proud. That’s wonderful you’re going to let your grandmother know how much she is cherished. I’m sure she will appreciate that!

  • zackcat

    Beautifully written Lori and I know how hard it must have been to write it through your tears. My Grandma died on June 10th aged 93 and like you, I’ll miss her terribly.

    I didn’t spend much time with her growing up, but developed a great phone rapport with her in the last 20 years or so and will miss her giggles, stories and memories. Their generation seem to be so much more pragmatic, stoic and grateful than ours and I’m just glad we all got the opportunity to listen and hopefully learn from them.

    RIP to your Grammy and also to mine, Edna May Castle 27.05.19-10.06.12  

  • Ansoliven

    Lori,  you were truly blessed to have had such your grandmother’s wonderful presence in your life.  Your giving as much of your time and self to us is a tribute to the lessons your grandmother was imparting through example.  I am sure you do her proud.  Thank you for sharing her with us. 

  • Tkhudd

    Lori I to had a Grammy she was the best we are so fortunate. They will always be with us my gram helped make me who I am today as I am sure yours did the same. Thanks for the post be well Tom h.

  • http://www.breakingthehabitofme.com/ Breaking The Habit Of Me

    Sorry for your loss, Lori.

    It is a wonderful thing to have had a relationship with your grandmother like that and to have learned those life lessons. I think today, with the way the world has changed, there are a lot of people that regrettably have not had this opportunity. Also, there is not enough respect for our elders or the wisdom they can bring us.

    I am glad you had that opportunity, and that you have shared  it with us. Maybe it will be enough of a reminder to all of us to foster and nurture those relationships.

    Hugs

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

     Aw – thanks :)  I so enjoy your site and the daily encouragements.

  • a_distorted_reality

    What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry for your loss, Lori. I lost my grandmother in March and I’m ashamed to say it was really only when she’d passed that I realised how much she meant to me. This has really struck a chord with me. Thank you.

  • http://twofeetgrounded.blogspot.sg/ Shirly

    Sorry for your loss Lori. You have made her proud through the amazing work and love that you have been spreading. I see that you are a continuation of her legacy! Keep shining forth with your talent, wisdom, kindness and light, just like your ‘Grammy’

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Shirly. I like thinking that I’m carrying on her legacy!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much. I am sorry for your loss as well. I’m sure your grandmother knew she meant a lot to you, even if you realized it more fully after her loss. I’ve come to believe that grandmothers almost always see the best in us!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I couldn’t agree more, about respect for our elders. When I think of how much life my grandmother lived before I was even born, and how much she saw and learned before and through my life, I feel even more grateful to have had the benefit of her experience. 

    When I was a kid, my sister and I used to sing at the rehab facilities where my grandfather stayed (when he was sick in the years before his death). We saw a wide range of people there–some vibrant like my grandfather, and others less coherent.

    In my early 20s, I spent a little time working with seniors in nursing homes–many of them with horrible conditions. A few years later, I worked for a company that wrote reviews of senior living facilities. 

    All this combined experience led me to realize many elders grow old without family to surround them–and in many cases, seem alone and forgotten. I now look to seniors with reverence and appreciation. (Though my grandmother never really seemed like a “senior”…just Grammy.)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Tom. I bet your Grammy was as wonderful as mine. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much. I get a little teary to read that. For a long time when I was younger, I feared that I disappointed her because she was a devout Christian, and I (clearly!) strayed from organized religion. But she never showed any disappointment. She accepted and loved me regardless of what I believed. I hope I carry on that legacy!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I know what you mean about that generation being pragmatic and grateful. My Grammy was born around the Great Depression, so she always made due with whatever she had without complaint–and she had a knack for fixing things that were broken so she didn’t have to throw them away. Her coworkers actually called her MacGyver. I loved that she didn’t seem driven by the frantic need to be or do more. She just lived and loved in such a pure way.

    RIP to your Grammy as well. What a beautiful name. It reminds me of a simpler time. 

  • http://www.breakingthehabitofme.com/ Breaking The Habit Of Me

    I think you just hit the nail on the head, Lori. Rather than seeing them just as other people, we have labelled them and treat them as a category. A category which unfortunately leaves out all of the good bits, which is why so many are left alone and forgotten.

    If we are to change anything, we need to show our children how to look after our parents and older family members, otherwise, we will get treated exactly the same when we are in the same position.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    So true. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think we all need a “village,” a community of people there for us, looking out for us, from the beginnings until the ends of our lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davinkwriter Davin Kimble

    This was fantastic. Very well written and just what I needed right now. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Davin. =)

  • http://twitter.com/yourgreatlifetv Bernardo Mendez

    Sweet Lori,

    This post touched me more deeply than I can express right now. What an incredible gift to have lived such a full, compassionate and selfless life, touching everyone around her and creating the sacred space necessary for a loving family that is committed to supporting each other. You are so lucky to have found such a soul as an example of love in your path and at the same time you have a strong and giving spirit to be sharing her essence so beautifully with us. I too had to write a eulogy once, it was for my father and it was by far the most difficult letter I’ve ever written and at the same time the most personal words of love I have ever shared with anyone. There is nothing I can tell you that can even attempt to assuage any pain or loss you might have experienced or be experiencing. I am simply here with you and send you all my love and light today and always. May she continue to shine a light on your path and radiate love throughout your life.

    -Bern

  • http://twitter.com/Paveludas Pavel Udas

    Hi Lori! am so sorry for your loss…am deeply moved by your granny’s wisdom and her attitudes towards life. Indeed we don’t need much to be happy if we truly enjoy what we have…salute to your granny and my deepest sympathy at this difficult time of yours. 

    Pavel from Far East (Nepal)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Pavel. She had an amazing attitude and perspective!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Bernardo. I was indeed lucky to have had such a strong role model. In her eulogy, I described her as pure love. That’s exactly what she was.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. After writing my grandmother’s eulogy, I can say with certainty it’s the hardest thing to write. 

    I appreciate that you’re here, offering me your understanding and support!

    Much love,
    Lori

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    Lori, this really moved me. It is good to be reminded of what is most important in life – one of those things is the people that touch our lives and leave us a better person because we knew them – that is priceless.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Ali, for reading and commenting. I definitely am a better person for having known my Grammy.

  • http://twitter.com/AlannahRose Alannah Rose

    This was such a beautiful tribute.  Thank you for sharing your Grammy with us here.  I’m so sorry for your loss – much love to you and your family. XO

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Alannah. I appreciate that. =)

  • Donnagoodnow

    A powerful and loving message. Seven years ago I had the privilege of giving the eulogy for mr mother, and I can only pray that I honored her in such a beautiful and meaningful manner. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to give the eulogy for your mother. I know from giving this one how challenging it is. I’m sure she’d be proud that you were able to honor her life in that way!

  • http://www.3speedlife.com/ Joanna Weston

    My deepest sympathy on your loss.  She sounds like a beautiful human being, and a true inspiration.  I’m sure that your eulogy was as touching a testament to her legacy of love as this post was.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Joanna. I appreciate your kind words. =)

  • Liz

    Thank you for sharing such a special piece of your heart… your grammy. You brought a smile to my face for which I am grateful for. Love is indeed a verb :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. =)

  • Chickoryhillcrone

    Your Grammy sounds like a wonderful person and a great role model.  How fortunate you were to have her in your life for so long.  My hope has been to have such a close relationship with my own grandchildren as you had with Grammy. Condolences and thanks for sharing your story.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much. I hope for the same thing for myself one day. If I become even half the mother and grandmother she was, I’d be proud!

  • Sweetborigirl

    This take me back to when I lost my grandpa’. My condolences to you and your family. It’s never easy when we lose a loved one. It’s a blessing to have had these amazing people in our lives. This reminds us to enjoy our time with our loved ones that are still alive and learn from their experiences too. I can definetely relate to these 4 powerful lessons you learned from your grandma’ as I watched my grandpa live a similar way. This really touched me and helped me look at these lessons in a way that can be beneficial to my life. I’m sure it will help many others too. Thanks for sharing this with us. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thank you for commenting! I thought the same thing…about how loss reminds us to appreciate the people in our lives. I never directly told me grandmother that I appreciated these lessons she taught through example. I think I will take the time to tell the other people in my life what they’ve taught me–now, while I have the chance!

  • http://ponder-the-pre.posterous.com Kate Britt

    It’s wonderful that, in spite of your youth, you have the capacity to appreciate an elder and to truly understand these deeper aspects of her life well lived. Thank you for sharing some of them with us.

    They say that when people pass on, they leave something of themselves in each of us who knew them. Clearly, Grammy’s heart, soul, and wisdom have become part of who you are. You are blessed to have been a part of her life and to have had her in yours.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Kate. I actually thought of you when I wrote this because you’d commented on a previous post related to my grandmother that it would be nice to read about the lessons she’d taught me. I was indeed blessed to have in my life. =)

  • http://ponder-the-pre.posterous.com Kate Britt

    Thanks for remembering my request, Lori. I’m so glad you wrote this article for all of us to read. You will treasure it yourself every time you re-read it. You’ve honored your Grandmother by sharing her Lessons (and I’m sure there were more than four ;).

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I have indeed treasured it, and my family has appreciated it as well! 

  • Beatriz Sosa-Prado

    This is so Beautiful, Lori…Thank you so much for sharing this. May your Grammy rest in peace. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Beatriz!

  • Javierlee83

    Lori, thank you for sharing with us.. I can truly feel the ache and emotions, as well as the encouragements and lessons throughout this post!..

    Your granny would be so very proud of what you are doing for the people all around the world through your website!

    **Thank you for doing what you do Lori ! “)

    love from Singapore & Taiwan
    ~Javier Lisa “)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Javier and Lisa. I love running the site, and I know she was proud of me for it. =)

  • Erin

    Lori,
    All my sympathies go to you and your family. I can relate to this post very well as my grandmother just passed in May. It has been a hard transition as all of us were not with her when she passed and she wanted no funeral service. Finding closure and acceptance is a daily battle which at times I think I overcome and at times I don’t, but recognizing how much she did for her family and how much she meant to all of us helps me. We recently went through some of her things and found a folder in the attic with my father’s military photos in it and article clippings of her and me when I was nine years old at “Grandparents Day” at my elementary school. The photo for the column was of her kissing my head as I ate my lunch and it was title “There is no distance too far for a grandparent to travel.” I find this to be true even after she is gone, she still manages to touch my life. I appreciate your love for your grammy and thank you for writing such a touching article.
    All the best,
    Erin

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Erin,

    I can understand why it would all be so much harder without having final moments with her and funeral services. I’m glad you found that wonderful memento to remember and honor her. I’m sure that’s something you’ll cherish. 

    The few things I took from my grandmother’s home have been so comforting to me, particularly this antique-looking jewelry/music box that I remember vividly from being in her room as a kid. When I open it and hear it playing “Strangers in the Night,” I imagine my grandparents first meeting, and it makes me feel close to both of them.

    All the best right back to you,
    Lori

  • lori

    Lori,
    Pleae accept my condolences. What a fortunate family to have had this wonderfully wise woman amongst them! The love just oozes out of your words about her. I’m sure she was so proud of you being able to interpret her wisdom and pass it on to others. We all appreciate you and your Tiny Buddha so much!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much fellow Lori. I really appreciate your thoughtful note! =)

  • Tinarose29

    awwww very touching but so beautiful at the same time, thanks for sharing Lori MHSRIP  x

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for reading and commenting Tina. =)

  • Christine Curtin

    Lori, that was beautiful! Grammy really lived life to the fullest, and was very much loved by all that knew her! Hope you are doing okay!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Christine! I am doing well, and I hope you are too!

  • http://twitter.com/CHANDRAKANTHA Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Hey Lori didi,

    It took me 3 months to finally read this blog..but i’m happy I finally have…Your Grandma sounds like she was a beautiful person inside & out..:-), From what you have mentioned about her, she reminds me a lot like one of my late grandma’s… My condolences to you & everyone in the family/friends. Hope u have been feeling better… I’m sure wherever she is now; she is being a lamp to others who are searching for it in their darkness..just like she seems to have been in this life for you & many others….

    P.S. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a Memory no one can steal….”

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Jeevan. She was a beautiful person. I am actually visiting my family again right now, and some of her furniture’s in the room where I sleep. It’s nice to be surrounded by items that remind me of her. I love that quote. Thank you for sharing it. =)

  • Ryan

    My apologies for not writing this sooner, Steve. I too lost my Grandfather this past year (in April). So much of what you wrote reflects my own experiences with him. He faced life with humor and grace. Not once did I ever see him depressed or unmotivated in anything he did, as farming is not a forgiving trade. As a contrast to this, I spent many years of the past decade with no real life goal other than self-pity after having to leave a great college. My family and I found out he was going to pass away about a year ago, as doctors had said there was nothing more they could do. This among other reasons finally got me out of my slump to take control of my life and make him proud before he was gone. As a result I was able to present to him my completed Associate’s Degree and admission to a Four-year school in the month preceding his death.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Ryan,

    I noticed you wrote your comment to Steve. Was this meant for me (the author of this post)? I will respond to it regardless!

    It sounds like your grandfather was an amazing man. How wonderful he inspired you to take take those steps in your life. I’m sure he’d be proud to know you’re doing so well! =)

    Lori

  • Deepu Joy

    Heartfelt writing Lori and a good lesson for all of us!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Deepu!

  • psyman

    thank you! :-)

  • Teena St

    Reading about your beloved grandmother made my heart smile, thank you for sharing those precious memories with us, it made my day. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome, and thanks so much. =)

  • Tzippi Moss

    Lori- I only now read your beautiful tribute to your grandmother. What a privilege that you got to be by her bedside as well as eulogize her! You did her honor, and I’m sure she is smiling down on you for all that you contribute here. What a blessing to have had her as your grandmother. I’m sure she feels you are a great blessing to her as well. I was lucky enough to be able to eulogize 2 beautiful women- my mother and my aunt. Thank you for your lovely post.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much, Tzippi! My grandmother left an amazing legacy. I know I’m not alone in wanting to live my life as she did, as all the women in my family respected and admired her.

    I love that you wrote that it was a blessing to eulogize your mother and aunt. Loss is never easy, but it’s a wonderful thing to celebrate someone’s life.