My grandfather was an old Irishman. He didn’t arrive at Ellis Island on the boat, but he wasn’t far removed from ancestors who did. My grandfather honored his protestant Irish heritage, and we celebrated St. Patrick’s day in style every year. As with many of those whose heritage included immigration to America, his life was a testament to hard work, strong values, and love of family. Growing up in the early part of the 20th century was no easy task.
I grew up in a small town, the daughter of a single parent, so my grandparents and aunts were significant people in my life helping my mom raise my brother and me. We lived close by, although in a small town pretty much everything is close by and within walking distance. My grandmother was a homemaker and grandpa was a self-employed barber. In those days parents could let their children walk around the downtown area, go to the park, the library, the pond without worries about abductions or foul play. I often stopped into my grandpa’s barber shop and he would give me a quarter to buy something at the store down the street or hand me a lollipop from his cupboard stash. Sometimes I would just hang around listening to the old men chat while drinking their bottles of Coke from the Coca-Cola ice box sitting along one wall in the barber shop.
In the summertime, I would help my grandpa weed his garden on his day off, go fishing with him or ride to the nearby creamery to buy whole milk and cream or cheese. At night and on many a Sunday afternoon my mom, grandparents and I would play card games for hours in my grandparent’s kitchen or on the screened-in porch to catch a cool evening breeze. Video games, Facebook and Netflix hadn’t been invented yet, kids spent a lot more time interacting with others and playing outside instead of with their faces glued to some form of an electronic device. Life wasn’t without its stresses, just less complicated.
My grandpa and I would chat about nothing and everything. He called me his “little Susie”. One bit of wisdom he shared more than once and I will always remember was, “you are no better than anyone else, but you’re just as damn good as anyone else”. Self-esteem is one of those things that for many is difficult to build effectively. I was the ‘fat kid’ and kids in school as well as my own cousins and their family made fun of me. I was the “she would be a pretty little girl if she lost weight” kid. To my grandpa, I was just a growing girl, albeit outward instead of upward, but he didn’t seem to notice and loved me just the same.
As I said, self-esteem doesn’t come easily for everyone, and it didn’t for me either, but his bit of wisdom stuck with me and he was right. We all came from the same source, Divine Love Energy, and to Divine Love Energy we will return. During the space between, we journey through life and hopefully will learn how to live peacefully with others, love unconditionally, forgive, and practice gratitude always. Some people will believe they are better than others, and the Bible says pride goes before a fall. Some will believe they don’t measure up, spending their lives trying to attain what is already the reality; they are just as damn good as anyone else…..