What My Grandma Taught Me About Enduring to the End

A few days ago my grandma, my last living grandparent, passed away. This week I am spending time with family and celebrating her life. She almost made it to 90, and she has been living alone since my grandpa passed away 13 years ago. I grew up next to her on a farm from age 3 until I left home at 18. It was a privilege to get to know her so well during those years.


It has also been a privilege to learn from her example of enduring to the end then and since. Here are some of the things she taught me:

Serve, serve, serve

A life of service is the best way to describe her life. Her love of service was a primary factor in her long and happy life.

My mom had five kids in less than eight years. Imagine trying to get five kids under eight ready to go anywhere. Grandma would often appear and quietly help when she knew we were getting ready to go somewhere.

She was a great pianist and could play for hours without any music. Her only reference would be a small notecard with lists of song titles. She would play in churches and rest homes and family gatherings and any other location or occasion where people could find joy in her music.

In her later years she knitted hundreds of articles of clothing, such as gloves and slippers, and tied hundreds of quilts to give away. She loved giving.

Don’t give excuses

Grandma never used her age or health as an excuse.

She had every reason to sit around and do nothing, but she was always doing something productive. She liked to watch TV, but never without knitting items to give away.

She would often visit "old people” in rest homes (many were younger than her). She would read to and play games with the residents. She would converse or play the piano. She loved to brighten people’s days.

She lived in her house on the farm until less than two months before her death. She had a hard time accepting help. She didn’t make excuses as she endured to the end.

Keep a sense of humor 

Grandma kept her sense of humor. My mom sent me a long list of funny things she said while family was gathered around not long before she died.

She said to my aunt, "I think you need to call someone in heaven to come get me.” My aunt asked who she wanted her to call. She responded, "anyone who will come get me."

One of her last statements sums it up well: "There is no use crying. We might as well laugh”

Young or old, enduring to the end can help us make the most of anything from a challenging but temporary project to our lives as a whole.

Question: What does it take to endure to the end?