My Gran, my only remaining grandparent, is 92 years old, and I recently had the pleasure of living with her for a week in her apartment in Ajax, Ontario (suburb of Toronto). Over this time together, I was both being with her and observing her. This woman is extraordinarily adored by her friends and family, and after 92 years I figured she’d know a thing or two about life.
Here are some valuable lessons I picked up along the way…
Focus on one thing at a time
Gran is not a victim of the digital age. Her attention span is sharp and she’s able to focus on one thing at a time with ease. For example, one of her favorite ways to pass the time is to listen to classical music. And that’s all she does when the music is on. She listens. I’d see her with her eyes closed and assume she was sleeping, only to hear her say a minute later, “I love this composer!”
Give yourself a couple yummy treats a day
After lunch everyday, Gran has two squares of dark chocolate. Not one square, two. And in the evening before dinner, she has a tiny glass of sherry. Sometimes after dinner, she’ll have a small scoop of ice cream. There’s obviously nothing overly indulgent about these practices. Just tiny bursts of pleasure speckled throughout the day.
Routine is everything
Gran has very few obligations in her schedule at this point in her life, yet she sticks to a routine of waking up at 6:20 am and going to bed at 10:00 pm, and various other rituals throughout the day. I love routines, so of course I could strongly relate to this one. Spontaneity is good, but spontaneity in the absence of routine is just chaos. Gran’s routine keeps her engaged and gives her a sense of structure and purpose.
The highlights of the week for Gran are when she’s spending time with family and friends that she loves. Yes, she enjoys her quiet time and needs lots of rest. Yet she truly sparkles when in the midst of good company.
Ask for the crème brûlée
One day I was popping out to the grocery store to pick up a few things that needed replenishing, one of them being her ice cream. So I asked, “Gran, what flavor of ice cream do you like?” thinking she’d say something modest and practical like vanilla.
There’s clearly nothing vanilla about this woman. She’s crème brûlée all the way.