I’m so thankful that I’ve been blessed with people who have taught me so many valuable lessons throughout my life. My grandparents are the kind of people who live by example. My head is filled with so many things that just kind of seeped in there because of how they live their lives. Many come to mind, but lately one of the the lessons that sticks with me is to live every second and to cherish every day because time just has a way of slipping away.
Many times throughout my college years, my grandparents would pick me up and we’d make the road trip home for holiday breaks. There are so many memories packed into these road trips. Most of the time my grandma would come with us, but once in awhile she would have to stay home to run her business and it would be just my grandpa and I. The trip was about 450 miles from Helena to my home in Wyoming. We’d be nearing the end of our journey, I was anxious to get home, my mom would have dinner waiting, and it never ever failed – grandpa would pull into the little small town cafe just 40 miles outside of my hometown. It drove me crazy. Why stop with only 40 miles left? Why eat a burger, fries and a milk shake when mom had dinner waiting just a little further down the road? I’d never say anything. I’d just climb out of the old diesel Oldsmobile and follow him into the restaurant. We’d sit at a booth, just the two of us, order and chat until it was time to go. We made this little stop, nearly every time we made the trip.
Today, I drive past this little cafe with my family on our road trips. And somehow it hit me one day that those stops we made at that little cafe were never about the burger or the fries. We didn’t stop for the shake or even a bathroom break. We stopped for us. Those stops were his way of making the most of the time we were given, of stretching the road and stealing just a little more time for us. They were his way of holding on a little bit longer and rather than letting time quietly slip away, he created memories that will stick with me forever. He taught me to be present and to take time to value the people I love, to live every day and cherish every moment. I’m kind of embarrassed that I didn’t put this all together at first. It’s true, part of the memories include me wondering what in the heck we were doing stopping forty miles from home to have a burger and fries when dinner was waiting just down the road. I’d chuckle a little bit to myself as the car pulled into the cafe parking lot thinking, “Here we go again.” I learned so much from those stops. I treasure them. Mostly I treasure his company. I treasure how much love was in those stops. I treasure the lesson he taught me and I try everyday to be aware of the little moments and the little things and people around me and how to build relationships.
In fact, we spent this last weekend at our family cabin. My daughter and I took Lucy, our golden doodle, to the lake. We rolled the windows down and turned the music up and wound our way down the gravel road to the beach. We threw stick after stick into the cold clear water of Fremont Lake and laughed as she brought it back each time and shook the cold water all over us. On the drive back, I found that it was me this time who wasn’t quite ready to let go. I drove right past our turn and took a little detour down the country road. My daughter asked, “Mommy, where are we going?” and I replied, “I’m just stretching the road out a little bit.” Seeing her wide grin in the rear view mirror was all I needed to know she understood. She felt treasured and was more than content to spend a little extra time on that stretched out road with me too. I hope she learns to do the same for those dearest to her. My wish is for my children to learn to live every moment with intent and to recognize that those moments and the people in them are gifts that slip away so easily if you aren’t careful, if you aren’t mindful. I’m so glad my grandfather taught me how to stretch that road a little longer. I can’t imagine how many moments I’d have missed without learning the lessons that are stuck in my brain from watching people like my grandparents live their lives. I truly am blessed. What about you? What do you remember learning from your grandparents? What lessons have stuck with you? What do you intend to pass on?