The Lies We Believe, or, “Grandma’s Hands”

I am a big believer in community service and “giving back.”  Long before it was considered fashionable, I always rolled up my sleeves and got involved.  I am certain that it was my grandmother who instilled in me the priceless gift of giving back.  No, unlike me, she never served on a board, she never participated in educational and arts related giving campaigns.  She never served as a chair of  lavish galas, she never co-chaired annual fundraisers and she never served as a chair of a development committee.  

 My grandmother’s community service was not considered “sexy.”  She took in babies and raised the babies to adulthood.  She took in children and offered stability before returning the children to their parents.  In the early 1970s she was one of the first persons to sign up for and serve as a captain in her neighborhood watch program.  Her dining room table always had a place for one more.  She helped struggling entrepreneurs by making micro-loans long before the term micro-loan was ever coined.  She was an “angel” investor to so many successful and failed business ventures all because she was simply asked.  No.  My grandmother was not naive nor was she easily convinced.  She was a born and bred New Yorker (New Rochelle, NY to be exact).  And as a rule, we New Yorkers are not easily fooled.  She simply believed in the edicts of 1. helping those who sought to help themselves 2. and helping those who were unable to help themselves.  That just about covered everybody!

Long before Working Woman magazine went to press my grandmother worked.  In the late forties and early 1950s, she owned and operated a successful candy store (known today as a convenience store) in the Bronx, and prior to that when her daughters were younger, my grandmother operated her own bookkeeping business.  She was an intelligent woman.  A caring woman.  A  woman of dignity and grace.  A stylish woman.  A sometimes painfully, brutally honest woman.  Don’t ask her for the truth because you got  it straight without a chaser!  She encouraged us.  She uplifted us and she loved us. She gave us her time, wisdom and yes, money.  She invested in us.  She was a silent teacher.  We learned from her not so much by her words but by her actions.  She taught by example.

Since middle school  and for every summer for the past 6 years, Precious Child I  has devoted a part of his vacation time to mentor and counsel bright students who lacked resources.  He was a Peer Leader to younger students at his school.  As a freshman in college he is involved in community outreach programs.  He along with Precious Child II founded a program that send used soccer cleats to an island in the Caribbean. 

Unlike me, and because of distance, my children were not gifted with almost daily contact with their great-grandmother.  But giving back must certainly be in their DNA.  And for that, they like me, are truly blessed.  My grandmother passed away, in her bed, in her New York City home on December 4, 2010.  She loved her home and she loved New York City more.    I am still dealing with the pain of this loss.  It’s hard Dear Readers.  But in my grandmother’s silent, classic way she is still guiding me.  A week before she died, I sat in my grandmother’s intimate, meticulous, New York City bedroom and she and I talked and shared with each other for two hours.   I learned so much about her and I learned so much more about myself within that short span of time.  She filled in so many gaps and answers  for me.  When I left her bedroom that evening I promised myself that I would from that moment on live a more authentic life. 

No more pretenses for me:  “I must be perfect.”  “I must have everyone’s approval.”  “My worth is determined by my performance.”  “Life is  fair.”  “Life is easy.”  “I can’t be happy unless everything goes my way.”  “And if I am unhappy it is somebody else’s fault.”  Those are just some of the lies that I use to believe.  

You see I was on this path to self-discovery and recovery before I lost my grandmother.  That’s why I fired myself  (I had a solo law practice)!  However, my grandmother’s passing has helped me to put it all in perspective.  When I tell you that it’s just not that heavy.  I really, truly, absolutely, authentically mean just that.  It. Is. Just. Not. That. Heavy. Period.  Take your hits, “own” your faults and mistakes (no–you are  not perfect–in spite of what your well-meaning mother might have told you early and often!), don’t take everything personally, don’t reason everything out with your feelings rather than the facts and most importantly “keep it moving!!!!”  Vow to give up those lies that have been destroying you and quit being unauthentic in your professional and home lives.  Overcome and defeat those lies with “your” truth and if you want that inconspicuous butterfly tattoo on your right inner ankle—-go for it!  You have my grandmother’s permission.  Ha!

COPYRIGHT 2011.  The Recovering Attorney.  All Rights Reserved.

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2 Responses to “The Lies We Believe, or, “Grandma’s Hands””

  1. good job i love all of it look in for more

  2. Thanks, Robert. Welcome aboard!

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