“Five lessons learned in my first 60 years”

WTJ-Pages 180-181- Stain Log - Right Page

WTJ-Pages 180-181- Stain Log – Right Page (Photo credit: atibens)



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This June 6, 2013 article on TheReporter website gives us a glimpse into a conversation between a grandparent and a grandchild.


Some of my own thoughts about this piece ….


While it isn’t a mental health specific item, I felt like for me at least it reminded me that life is a learning opportunity and that those of us who are younger can learn a lot from those who are older if we take a moment to listen.  Every once in a while I will be working on something around the house and recall things my Grandmother told me, and it always brings a smile to my face as I suddenly realize that what she told me when I was a kid really does make sense.  She use to have an expandable clothesline in her kitchen which as a kid I always thought was kind of silly.  I mean who has a clothes line in their kitchen?  I also remember my Grandma telling me that it helped her save money on washing clothes if she hung things to dry instead of running the dryer every time she washed a load of clothes.  But as a kid I never really appreciated this bit of wisdom until years later …. in fact I think I can say it was within the past couple years that I finally understood how having a silly looking clothesline in the kitchen could save money, and now that I understand, I find myself wishing I too could have a clothesline in my kitchen, but since I’m pretty sure my landlord would protest over that one, I’m settling for a collapsible drying rack that serves the same purpose as my Grandma’s seemingly silly clothes line she had in the kitchen.  She also once told me that if I wanted nice things I needed to take good care of the things I have.  As a kid this was something else that never really registered in my busy mind as a kid.  Last March, I was making corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s day to share with my Mom, and as the food was cooking, I decided that instead of handing my Mom a bowl of the corned beef and cabbage while she sat on the couch, I would clear my kitchen table and set it so we could sit at the table to eat instead.  After clearing the table, I got to thinking that I had some table cloths my Grandma had embroidered so I thought that one of them would add a nice touch to the table.  As I was looking through the cloths trying to decide which one I wanted to use, I recalled what my Grandmother had said about taking care of things so I could have nice things, and as I got the steamer out to remove the wrinkles from the cloth, it suddenly made sense what she meant by that.  I had learned the hard way to take care of stuff, and after my Grandma had passed away and I think several years had passed, my Grandpa decided to move to Florida.  I was helping to clean out his house, and in exchange for helping I was offered a few items.  I have a bible that I remember seeing my Grandma read, and several cloths she had embroidered now, and even though I am inclined to keep these items packed away in storage, to protect them, I also realize that something else my Grandma said make a lot more sense to me now then it ever did when I was a kid.  I remember helping her set the table for dinner one time and a cloth she was putting on the table had a stain on it.  I spotted the stain and asked if it would ever be able to come out, because it was such a pretty cloth.  She told me that she embroidered the cloth to be used and that a little stain wasn’t a big deal, it just meant the item was serving the purpose it was made to serve.  That cloth was among the cloths I was offered when I was helping my Grandpa get ready to move to Florida.  The cloth with the stain happens to be the one that I used on my table for that St. Patrick’s day meal, and like me, my Mom spotted the stain on it, and then I shared the memory I had about the stain and the lesson I learned from my Grandma because of it.  Sometimes it isn’t what things look like, but rather it’s what kind of meaning we give them.  The stain on that particular cloth is maybe the size of a quarter, so it’s not very big, but because it’s a white cloth, and I suspect that it’s a gravy stain, the stain does stand out a bit.  Yet at the same time the hand embroidered decoration my Grandmother had put on the cloth is no less beautiful and the cloth is no less functional even with a small stain on it.  If anything because of the stain, that particular cloth for me any way has gained value …. sentimental value and not really any monetary value, but it is still a valuable piece because of the story attached to it.  Through that stain, I learned that things don’t have to look perfect for a family to enjoy a meal together, because it’s not about whether the cloth has a stain or not, it’s about the gathering of family that is important, and like my Grandma said if the stain bothered me too much she would put something over it so it was less visible, which then seemed to make it ok to have a small stain in the middle of the table-cloth and while I ate I forgot about the stain, so putting the turkey over the stain while not a perfect solution, can be enough to help people forget about what isn’t important about the meal.