As I’ve been pondering and marveling over all the skill my grandmother had in her kitchen, around the house, in the garden, at the farm, at the store and more, I realized there is one skill that I have overlooked. My grandmother knew how to be flexible.
I’ve heard it said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.” My grandmother’s life certainly required some flexibility. Life has a way of throwing you curve balls, giving you unexpected challenges and disappointments. With each curve ball, we are faced with a decision…How will we respond?
Admittedly, I was either not born yet or very young when some of the following events occurred, however, I can remember hearing about them and I saw the results of these events. I’m not even sure I have all the details right. What I do know is that I know the result of how my grandmother faced these events. One in particular has been running through my mind recently. Probably because I am facing a similar situation and challenge.
After my grandparents were married they began farming and ranching in western Kansas. They raised hereford cattle and lots of alfalfa and probably other things as well, but that’s what I remember. They did well….they built a new brick house, expanded their property, hired help. They were successful. They had two young children. Life was good. I don’t know exactly how old he was when my grandfather had his first heart attack but I would imagine it was in his early to mid-thirties based on what I’ve been told. The first was followed by others and pretty soon his health caused my grandparents to reconsider their choice of farming and ranching. It’s hard, HARD physical labor…especially during those years. The doctor informed my grandfather that in order to survive he would have to give up farming.
What a blow that must have been! They had spent their lives building a life on that farm. This is what they knew…this is what my grandfather had been raised around. And now, now they wouldn’t be able to continue. I wonder what my grandmother felt as she faced the idea that her life was going to be forever changed and radically turned upside down. They were facing a move into town, the sale of their farm, purchasing all that was needed to start a small department store in the town of Quinter (approximately 1000 people then), learning a new trade, building yet another house….the changes and transitions must have provided an endless list of things to worry about.
Yet, she faced these transitions and changes and survived and I never, NEVER heard her utter a word of regret or bitterness. In my heart, I think she was more comfortable on the farm but yet, she worked side by side with my grandfather in their store year after year after year. She remained flexible.
Sometimes I think my grandparent’s generation understood the frequency and unpredictability of “curve balls” more than we do. Because of that, they knew how to walk through uncertain times with a grace and a dignity that few demonstrate today. For whatever reason, we seem to expect things to go like we want them to go, to get the results we want to get, and to encounter few challenges. Real life isn’t like that.
Life requires flexibility.
I bet all of us are facing some “curve balls” right now. I want to remember what my grandmother demonstrated: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.”