The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.Rob Montgomery
I’m probably around the age now that my grandparents were when I came into their lives as a baby. All of my grandparents have since passed away, and I still miss them, and think of them often. But they are still with me, even now.
They don’t come to me through some strange psychic connection, although I do feel their presence and see their signs from time to time.
The way they show up in my life most regularly is through the wise advice they gave me when I was younger.
One grandfather has guided me in business, and in how to conduct myself with honesty and confidence in the world. Don’t slouch in the corner and don’t stand on the edges, I’ll hear him say. Stand up straight, step forward and carry yourself with dignity. None of them are better than you, so don’t ever think like that. You have something to offer too. Look them right in the eye and give them a firm handshake.
One grandfather has guided me in life. Travel is marvellous, he’d say. There is so much world to see, and so many interesting people to meet. You can make friends anywhere. Don’t ever be afraid of the unknown.
One grandmother guided me in self-care and inner strength. You’re stronger than you realise, she’d tell me. Life can be cruel, but you will be alright. You’re smart, you will find a way, you can cope with anything. Put some effort in to how you look. Not for other people, but for yourself. Take pride in yourself. Always take the time to moisturise your skin, it’s the only skin you’ll ever have, and you need to take care of it, she’d say, as I watched her rub Oil of Ulan on her face in the morning, or Pond’s Cold Cream at night. Smell this soap. Isn’t it lovely? Roses. Just the smell makes you feel uplifted. Coral, that’s such a good colour on you, Nicole. It makes you glow. This is also the Grandmother from whom I borrowed the term ‘Lovelies’, the way I greet you each day on my blog. Whenever I turned up at our grandparents’ house my grandmother would greet us with, ‘Hello, my Lovelies’ and her trademark big smile, a hug and so much warmth and love. What a wonderful way to welcome us – we were her lovelies. It made me feel so very special.
One grandmother guided me in matters of the heart. When you meet the right person, you’ll know, she said. Listen with your eyes, not just your ears. How does he speak to his sister, how does he treat his mother? Is he polite to waiters and kind to strangers? She was also practical. She showed me to keep some money folded away inside a corner of my wallet or handbag as ’emergency money’, to carry an empty plastic bag and a string bag folded up in my handbag (oh, there are a thousand uses for a clean plastic bag), and to always have a bank account of my own, that only I could access.
My long-lost grandparents show up in my life often. They are there in the way I make a bed, or carefully read through a document before I sign it, in the way I cook pikelets or banana cake, in the way I can pull myself together and put my lipstick on and go out into the world with a steady smile when my whole interior is crumbling.
I have many happy memories of the time I spent with them, but it’s the wisdom they shared with me that keeps them most alive in my heart.
Your children, godchildren, nieces and nephews and grandchildren pay more attention then you may realise. Sure, give them happy memories, but don’t forget to share your wisdom with them too. We all need those guiding words tucked in a corner of our heart for the time when you aren’t there to guide us in person.
Love, clean hankies and coral lipstick, Nicole xx