An Open Letter to my first grandchild (and to all of those who will come hereafter),
I’m a brand new grandmother as of September 30, 2008. To say I am excited would be a huge understatement. Adding to this excitement is the fact that my first grandchild is a beautiful little girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love my three sons dearly and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but I always thought it would be fun to have a daughter, too. Unfortunately, my decrepit body was uncooperative when I pondered having more children. So my husband and I have been blessed with three wonderful sons, a marvelous daughter-in-law, and now a gorgeous tiny granddaughter.
First, Aarielle, and the rest of you cuties (I would call you all by name too, but you aren’t in mortal mode yet), know that your grandmother loves to laugh. All the time. At silly things, and even at things that aren’t silly. Laughter helps us cope with embarrassing moments, stressful situations, and life in general. I learned this philosophy from your great-grandmother who taught us to laugh even when you manage to hit yourself in the face with a piece of pumpkin pie laced with a generous helping of whipped topping. (My mother is gifted like that. Where do you think I get it from?)
Embrace life with gusto. This means enjoy the journey. Don’t sit the corner. Part of why we’re here is to gain experience and that doesn’t happen if you hide under the bed. Besides, that’s where the monsters live. =) Kidding. (Hey, my mother once told me that sliced apricots were the ears of bad little boys and girls. I still don’t eat them.)
Seriously, one day, we’ll be asked to account for our lives. We will have to look our Elder Brother and our Father in heaven in the eyes and share what we did with our talents, our time, and our testimonies. Don’t be like the foolish servant the Savior warned us about—the one who hid his talent because he was frightened that he might lose it. Show up for that final interview with grass smudges, dirt under your fingernails, and maybe even a bruise here and there. Explain that these things happened while you were climbing mountains. Then describe the view from the top.
Be thankful. Appreciate all that you have been blessed with, even if you don’t like spinach. (Incidentally, your grandmother loves that particular veggie, just so you know.) Realize that our Father has given us everything, and express gratitude to Him as often as possible.
Sad things happen. It’s part of life’s test. That doesn’t mean the Church isn’t true or that we aren’t loved by our Father in heaven. It just means we’re learning about sorrow, an emotion we experience here on Earth. The good news is the sadness won’t last forever. Have yourself a good cry, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue forward. You’ll savor joyous occasions more thoroughly because of those moments of sorrow. And when you see that someone else is sad, lend them your shoulder because you’ll understand how they feel.
Don’t be afraid to cry. I’ll be honest, I detest crying. But it’s an important part of the healing process. And there are different kinds of tears. Happy tears, like those I shed on the day you were born. Tears shed when we’re proud of someone, and tears triggered by heartache or physical pain. They all make our eyes red and puffy and our noses run. I’m not sure whose idea that was, but that’s what happens. =) It’s still okay to cry.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll see this statement on t-shirts, posters, etc. It’s true. Too many people get caught up in worrying over things that don’t matter. I know because I’ve done it myself. The trick is to learn to live by faith. Do the best you can each day that you live and don’t beat yourself up over the “What-ifs.”
satan plays dirty. (By the way, I purposely don’t capitalize his name.) he will hit you below the belt any chance he gets. he is miserable and he wants everyone else to be miserable, too. Remember this, we are stronger than he can ever hope to be. And we have the power of heaven on our side. Don’t let him get a foot in the door (this means avoid temptation) and heed the standards and commandments we’ve been given to keep us safe. As the Primary song stresses, “in this there is safety, in this there is peace.”
We all make mistakes, even your daddy. =) Ask him about the time he blew up our toilet in the main bathroom. None of us can be perfect in this world. But we can be happy if we’ll heed gospel principles. When you mess up, confess to the proper person. It may be your parents, your bishop, or those you may have wronged. Do whatever you can do to make things right, and learn from what happened. Then move on. Remember, it’s just as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive other people.
That brings us to an important philosophy. It is crucial to forgive others. I recently read a book that stresses that when we deny forgiveness to others, we are denying forgiveness to our Savior, since He already paid the price for that transgression. It’s not always easy to forgive. Sometimes when someone has hurt us deeply, it can take a long time to move past what has happened. Simply pray for the strength to eventually let go of the pain. Peace of heart and mind are possible, regardless of what has taken place.
Never cheat. When I was young there was a saying. It went something like this: Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. I can honestly state that I never cheated. I earned every grade I ever received in school, even the “D” I experienced in Algebra after moving to Ashton during my freshman year of high school. A former straight-A student, this grade didn’t set well with me. So I worked very hard to catch up with the other students who were pages ahead of where my former class had been. I raised that grade to a “C.” Still not an “A” but I knew I had given it my best, and that I had remained honest. Despite that bad grade, I still managed to graduate in the top ten of my senior class. ;)
This epistle is getting very long. I can see that I may have to write a few of these open letters, since I’ve gleaned so much wisdom during my “Adventure of a Lifetime.” ;) (Ask your daddy about the musical I wrote a few years ago for the YW I taught at the time. That was the name of the play, “The Adventure of a Lifetime,” and it was.)
I will close by stressing these final thoughts: Always honor your parents. You have been blessed with wonderful parents who love you dearly. They went through a lot to bring you into this world. You may not always agree with what they think is important—humor them anyway. They have been where you are, and they understand more than you think.
Know that your grandmother possesses a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not an easy thing to gain (you’ll have to read my life history for the whole story), but it is something that I’ve treasured dearly. Knowing who I am, where I came from, and where I will go someday (hopefully) has been the glue in my life. You will have to gain your own testimony—never lean on anyone else’s. It is important for you to find out for yourself what is true.
You are a beloved child of God. He sent you here to learn, grow, and experience life tests. Never blame Him when bad things happen. Instead, ask for His guidance and He will never leave you to face dark times alone. It is said that we communicate to our Father through prayer. He answers us through the scriptures. I know this to be true. I have found so many answers to life’s questions in scriptures that popped out at me when I’ve needed them most. Study the scriptures daily and you will achieve peace of heart and mind despite dark and stormy times.
Know that you will be watched over your entire life. My own life has been repeatedly spared on more occasions than I care to count. Several of those experiences were miracles, like the time I was speeding toward a brick building on a motorcycle a young man was teaching me to ride. (I was a college student at the time, attending Ricks College.) I had confused the gas feed with the brake and terrified, I kept giving the stupid thing more gas instead of slowing it down. At the last possible minute, just when I thought my life here on earth was finished, that bike jumped at least five feet sideways. It then went through a narrow open metal gate, and the engine shut off, just like someone had turned off the key. A second brick building lay in front of me. I would have smashed into it if the motorcycle hadn’t shut off. My date came running up behind me, demanding to know how I had jumped the bike sideways. When he tried to pry my shaking fingers from the handlebars, he caught on that I wasn’t the one who had shut off the engine. I wasn’t the one driving either. =) Ask your father about seeing the small piece of brick that is still missing from the corner of the first building. It’s in one of my scrapbooks. The only injury that day was a small gash on the back of my left hand. I still possess that scar, a reminder of my brief patty spank that day. I call it one of my memory dents.
We don’t die until it is our time. So when someone we love passes from this life, it’s because they are needed on the other side of the veil. It’s okay to grieve for them when they’re gone, but don’t remain in that briar patch of emotion. Pick your way out and move on. Eventually that heart wound will fade.
Savor life. Enjoy each day as it comes, and always remember to find joy in the simple things. Money is a tool, not a way of life. Someday, how much money you made will not matter at all. But how you treated people will.
Goodness, I have waxed eloquently (IE: rambled a lot). So I will end this epistle for now. Know that I love you with all of my heart and that I will be cheering you on every day of your life from wherever I am.
Love you tons,