The Other Side of the Street

My grandmother is in a nursing home. She is a very sweet and very practical woman. At my sister’s high school graduation party in 2008, she told me (14 at the time) that while she would love to attend my graduation party someday, she may not make it that far and she wouldn’t want me to get my hopes up.

She did, in fact, make it to my graduation party in 2012. Much more quiet than she had been at my sister’s, but her vibrant spirit still shone.

This week, I got to visit my grandma for the first time in a few months. Her memory isn’t doing well, but she did remember a walk she went on recently. At her nursing home, you aren’t allowed to take a walk by yourself. But she did. Which she brought up at least 5 times in our half an hour together. “Apparently I took a walk this week!” “It was only a few blocks.” “I took a walk yesterday, such a beautiful day.” It was almost as if she were a little proud that she broke the rules and escaped for a bit. (We aren’t exactly sure for how long, or where she went, as the report was lacking a lot of information) She had wanted to go out and enjoy the sunny day, so she did. I can only hope I’m half as defiant and determined when I get to be her age.

Among her multiple recounts of the walk, she said something that, although said offhand, had a really cool meaning for me. “You never see what’s on the other side of the street until you look.” My grandma has been holed up in this nursing home for a while now, and has missed exploring, missed stepping out of her bubble to see what else the world has to offer. I’ve been back for just a week and already am feeling the same way. There’s more out there to explore, I just have to get out there and find a new adventure (and maybe break a few rules, since I’m taking a page from Grandma Florence’s book).

While her life is drawing to an end, my grandma still has plenty of wisdom to offer. Her mind may be going a little (when I brought up what used to be one of her favorite topics, the squirrels outside her window, she told me she hadn’t noticed any squirrels at Sunnyview, which completely broke my heart), but she is much more like me than I gave her credit for. She asked if I had caught the travel bug while I was away. Which yes, yes I have. She turned to my uncle Bill and told him she regretted that they hadn’t had these same opportunities when they were young.

I wish my grandmother had gotten to see more of the world. But it’s just another lesson that we shouldn’t take for granted the opportunities we have in today’s world. Many people don’t have the option to visit foreign countries (although Drake makes it way easier with their study abroad opportunities), but we all have the option to cross the street. To explore, to discover something, to learn something new every day. That is what my grandma was after, and that’s what I want to do as well. I will not be taking for granted the opportunities I have anytime soon, and I don’t plan on ending my traveling or exploring anytime soon. Thanks gma Flo for your words, I’ll be back again soon <3



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