Lessons From My 102 Year Old Grandmother

My Grandmother, Nada Vidas - affectionately known as “Baka” which is Croatian for Grandmother - passed away recently at 102. She imparted three lessons that showed me a path to fulfillment I wouldn't have otherwise known, they are: 

Have Good Habits 

Baka lived with my family and was legally blind by the time I was a kid. However, that never slowed her down. She walked around our block every day, rain or shine. Sewed and repaired her own clothes and cooked for herself well into her 90’s.

When she moved to a care facility a few years ago she would still go for her walks. Trailing beside her I would laugh as she would admonish the “Old People” in wheelchairs who just “Sat around all day and did nothing.” Never mind these people were 20 years her junior. 

These routines gave her life a sense of rhythm and momentum. She transformed that momentum into an incredible resiliency. Carrying her through two World Wars, a Depression and to a new country where she didn’t speak the language.

It’s why I meditate, exercise and journal every day. Hoping to capture that energy for the challenges and opportunities I face. 

Have Community

At her 100th birthday Baka was surrounded by friends she’s had for 60+ years. I come back to the feeling that everyone had such respect for her. She was always there and willing to help family, friends and neighbours out in tough times, no matter the cost. That is how she earned that quiet respect.

It is a reminder to me to look after and uplift those around me, no matter how I’m feeling that day.

Have a Sharp Pant Crease

Baka loved doing the laundry. Sheets and t-shirts were ironed and folded with laser-like precision. Much to me and my sister’s chagrin our jeans also received a knife edge crease down the middle of the pant leg. Exactly what every 10th grader wants.

I realize now she was of service to others and wanted us to look and feel our best. I also like to think she loved the precision of the exercise. I have discovered that’s how you do the big things, by enjoying the process of getting the small things right.

Thank you for all you’ve taught me, Baka.

- Aaron