5 beautiful life lessons from my Jamaican grandma
There are some people who you make you feel so incredibly blessed in their presence. They light up a room, they make you feel safe, comfortable and loved.
My grandma was one of them.
A few weeks ago, she passed away and my world has been left with a hole that I’m struggling to fill. I catch myself thinking of the future and making plans - then remembering that I’ll never have a cup of tea with her watch Gogglebox with her again and it makes me feel the heaviness of that hole that’s been left behind.
I know there’s different stages of grief to move through - and honestly I have no idea what category of grief I’m sitting in right now, but today I feel inclined to share a handful of the beautiful lessons that my grandma has left behind.
Hopefully these lessons will give you a piece of the beauty of her soul and some takeaways to be mindful of in your life.
“Na badda look pon she”
Meaning “Don’t bother looking at her”
In essence, this means don’t pay attention to what others are doing, and instead focus on yourself. My grandma was only ever focused on what was in her immediate control, she would always remind me not to compare my situation to anyone else’s and understood the value of self love and acceptance. Something we all need a reminder of every now and then.
“Siddown and eat, nah”
Sit down and eat. My grandma was always in the kitchen. She would genuinely get offended if I visited unannounced because she hadn’t taken the chicken out of the freezer or seasoned the lamb before I got there. It was always a feast at my grandmas house. Every Sunday, she cooked as if she was feeding the 5000. My family would drop in throughout the day and she’d dish out rice and peas, dumplings, chicken, lamb, mutton and we dived in. She would even give us food to take home in a recycled Flora butter tub.
One annoying thing about my grandma though was that didn’t like to eat out. We tried so many times to treat her, and she would complain “the meat too tough”, “Dem na season the chicken good” “It nah have no taste”. So over the years, we gave up. But there was one dish that was a guilty pleasure for her; Fish and chips from Bucks Chippy on Buckminster Road. That was the only meal that I could buy for her! We’d sit at the table eating golden fish from the paper bag and there would be no complaints. Food brings everybody together. Many disagreements and misunderstandings were resolved around grandmas dining table in front of a steaming plate of food. If you’re struggling to communicate with somebody, sit down and eat…
“Get that bloody cat out of my garden”
The garden was my grandmas sanctuary. If she didn’t pick up the phone, it was usually because she was tucked away in a corner of the garden de-weeding and tending to her plants. She loved her garden and loved to watch her flowers bloom. One thing that she didn’t like was cats running through her plants and in her words “shitting up the place”. She swore that cat poop was poisonous to her grass and whenever she saw a threat (aka a feline) approach her garden, she would scare it away like a mad woman. The way that I see this lesson is if you feel or see that negative energy is approaching your space - get rid of it FAST so that your garden can continue to bloom beautifully.
Dance your heart out!
My grandma was always dancing. In the living room, at weddings, at parties, in the kitchen - you name it, she’d be whining. At every family event, we’d drag her onto the dancefloor and she’d dance with her grandchildren to inappropriate lyrics as we taught her the latest dance crazes and giggled. She didn’t care what anyone said, she loved music and her record collection and she wasn’t afraid to show you. Allowing yourself to let loose and have fun is not just recommended, it’s a necessity to embrace the joy in that to live a fulfilled life.
“I love you”
Not only would she love me excessively with her words, she would also love me with her actions. We treated every encounter like it was our last. She would stand at the window, hoist up the net curtain and wave at me as I drove down the hill away from her house. I would show her the latest and funniest face-changing filters on Instagram and talk to her about all the places that I wanted to visit next. She would sit and watch my vlogs with me and would scream at the screen as I swam in open water and laugh as I tasted foreign foods. I think this stemmed from the fact that I had spent so many years living abroad and living in London, so it was always a pleasure to come back home, and I never really knew when I’d next get a weekend free to come visit. Appreciating these moments and capturing memories is such a beautiful part of life, and has played an amazing part in our relationship.
At the end of it all, all we have is the memories…
Most things are out of our control, but we’re all fortunate enough to control how we see things.
We can choose to believe anything.
That everything happens for a reason, that we’re a teeny tiny insignificant speck of dust in an infinite universe, or that we’re in complete control of our own destiny.
Whatever we choose to believe, we are here today and all we have is the present. So use it wisely and enjoy every second of it!