Ok, my grandma isn’t grumpy, not all the time anyway. I just always thought of her as grumpy when growing up because when I stayed with her as a kid, she’d mostly tell me what I shouldn’t do rather than what I could.
She’s been staying with us for 3 weeks, basically my uncle has been poorly and there is a huge possibility he could have pancreatic cancer. He’s in the middle of having tests at the moment and as my grandma lives alone, she didn’t want to be on her own during the stressful time of waiting to find out what exactly is the matter with him.
Previously, when she’d stay with us in London (she’s from Leeds in Yorkshire), I’d find it a little stressful, only because I was focusing on the idea that we are completely different. I always found it exhausting defending my views on life during conversations with her about this and that. However, this visit has been like no other. It hasn’t been hard or stressful or challenging at all. We’ve got on, we’ve talked about opposing views but I haven’t flared like I may have done in the past. I’ve stopped judging her (I realise I’ve been very judgemental in the past, obviously the less I judge myself the less I feel the desire to judge others). I have enjoyed her company and appreciated her for who she is, rather than finding fault as she’s not living up the expectations I was imposing upon her. She’s 90! I can learn so much from her… yes she may eat cheap meat and not worry about animal welfare and has very conservative opinions about political affairs but she’s also caring and strong and vibrant and loves meeting people and enjoys her life.
I have been amazed these past few weeks with how much I have learnt about her as I loosen those judgement reigns. I haven’t built the usual ‘I’m not going to talk to you much because you’re just going to upset me’ wall that I’ve been hauling around in her company for the past 10 years. I am so grateful for that, so grateful that I have been able to listen to her, to witness her softer side and to feel a genuine warmth between us that may have previously frozen due to frosty bites I’d use to defend against something that was never attacking me. That’s the point isn’t it, we can build up so much attack in our systems that everything outside begins to resemble a dangerous weapon of mass destruction.
These few weeks I’ve seen many of my weapons melt in the fire that has kept grandma and I warm as we play cards and I show her how to make a almond milk hot chocolate. Turns out, she likes my plant-based cooking and has now bought herself a blender to make smoothies like the one’s she’s enjoyed here.
Life throws us surprises every single day and for me it’s just being receptive, showing an openness to learn rather than defend. Learning to love is the greatest lesson so far (and I can’t imagine it ever gets better than that).