On the first day of distance learning, our professor challenged us to get to know someone on campus that we didn’t already know. Social distancing made that tough, in fact, almost impossible. I couldn’t see my friends, how could I possibly meet someone new?
He assured us that everyone was feeling this way, but we could still connect and meet other students through online groups. So, I joined a few and posted an update talking about my little social experiment.
To my surprise, I received a response almost immediately from a very wrinkled, old lady with a huge smile. A profile picture that could light up a room, but she had to be well into her 80’s. I couldn’t even believe she was using social media, let alone being a college student? I was intrigued.
After my response, she introduced herself immediately, “Hello dear, I’m Jean. I’m 87 years old. It’s nice to meet you. Since I cannot physically give you a hug, here’s a virtual one. I hope you are staying healthy during this unprecedented time.”
I was not expecting such a positive response. I responded back enthusiastically, even though I wasn’t exactly feeling positive. “Yes, I’m doing fine. Thank you for the hug. I hope you don’t mind me asking, are you really a college student?”
She responded, “Yes, I am. This is my 3rd year. I have always dreamed of having a college education and now I am getting one.”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. This was going to be an interesting assignment.
That day I chatted for hours with Grandma Jean. And as the stay at home orders continued to be extended, we continued to keep in touch.
Our chats grew into zoom talks where she shared her “time machine wisdom”, as she referred to it. Her optimism was hypnotizing. She was a person who was at the highest risk during this time, and I never heard an ounce of fear in her voice.
She was full of faith and gratitude. She was fun and made the best of each long, lonely day. She enjoyed her days and made the most of it, even though she was home.
Over the course of a few months, Grandma Jean became someone very near and dear to my heart. Her life stories were full of adventure and wisdom. Her days in quarantine were still filled with happiness.
Her personality was contagious and her positive thoughts occupied my overthinking and worrying mind. She made me see the silver lining in life, even during quarantine.
For my end of the year project, I had to give a speech about what I learned from my new friend.
“Grandma Jean taught me that age is just a number. We do not stop learning and playing because we are old, we grow old because we stop learning and playing. In order to stay young at heart, be happy, and achieve your dreams, you have to laugh and enjoy each day – even the difficult ones. Keep your dreams in your heart.
Never let them go, no matter how old you are. When you lose your dreams, you die. So many people are walking around, dead inside, because they have given up on their dreams. Live life without regrets.
Most importantly, I’ve also learned that there is a huge different between growing older and growing up. Anyone can grow older, that doesn’t take effort, talent or ability.
Growing up is always looking for the opportunity to improve and waking up each day with a positive mindset. Even on hard days, one positive thought can change your whole day. It doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time, just trust that better things are coming.”
Do you know someone like Grandma Jean? Tag and tell us about them in the comments.