My grandmother was a natural at cultivating relationships. She seemed to know everyone in Washington, DC. She would walk down the street and strike up a conversation with a bum in park as easily as she would with congressmen and senators. She was skilled at making everyone feel comfortable. This natural skill made her, not only my grandmother, but a grandmother to practically everyone in my neighborhood.
She enjoyed making sure that those close to her were well cared for. I learned from her that loving someone meant caring for them. She had this friend named Mr. Jerry. Life seemed like it was very hard on him. He would often come by the house in need of a meal. The minute she saw him coming, she would tell me to go prepare the table for him. My grandmother seemed to believe that eating a good meal at the table with friends and family would solve all the ills of the world. Maybe that is true, because I learned a lot of valuable lessons around the kitchen table. I asked her once why she kept taking care of him, when it was obvious he wasn’t doing it for himself. She told me that life can be very challenging. A whole lot in life is not fair. So, when you see someone in need, you care for them. You never give up on people. Everyone needs an anchor in the storm.
It was on that day that certain things became clear to me.
Love is power under strength.
Men are typically the ones that care for women, but my grandmother spent her time caring for others. A few times I witnessed her care for people that I knew at one point was intentional in their cruelty toward her. It takes a special kind of strength to care for someone you know is intentional in their animosity.
It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind
Being kind to someone can be one of the best gift you give someone. Somewhere along the way life dealt Mr. Jerry a difficult hand. The kindness my grandmother showed helped him make it through another day
When you love, love hard and fierce.
Love is service to others. You can’t truly love until you give of yourself. Relationships are built with patience, sealed with love, sprinkled with fun, and served with kindness.
Watching my grandmother care for Mr. Jerry gave me a basic foundation in relationships. As the oldest of my mother’s children, love as a service was one of my first lessons in relating to my family and friends. I carried this lesson into all my relationships. When I was 14 years old, I decided I wanted to date. I thought that just being kind and letting him choose some of our activities would make for a great relationship. I mastered this lesson and just knew this universal lesson on relationships would be enough.
I soon discovered that different types of relationships required different things. This basic foundation would not be enough to sustain me. Love has layers. It would take me years to harness the lessons my grandmother gave me to truly discover if the guy I was dating was the one for me. One of those lessons was about using my time wisely to gather the facts I needed to have a successful relationship.
I came to this revelation AFTER I got divorced. I got married at 21 because I just knew I was ready and decided he was too. Too often we decide the man we are with is ready for the same experiences we are simply because we are together. Like so many others, the lessons my grandmother gave me were valuable, but I got lost in the application. I struggled in my process to find the love I felt I needed. I stumbled through hard lessons in love to find the love I desired, because the type of love I was receiving in my life was causing me more angst than I would like to remember.
I made a few discoveries about love along the way and put together a pocket guide, that I used which revealed the love of my life to me. There are good men out there. My book shares more of the lessons my grandmother gave me. My grandmother died before I got married. My anchor in the storm wasn’t present while I was up treading in the dating process through the fake ones to get to the gem. Time and heartache helped me remember a lot of what she taught me. I wrote the book “Red Alert: Is He the One” to help others navigate the hurdles they experience so they can build firmer foundations for themselves.
My grandmother’s lessons on relationships were stepping stones to making me a better person. I am grateful she gave me a platform to stand on and a fundamental lesson on relationships that would cross any relationship I would encounter.