Playing it Forward

No matter where you are in your ageless life, you are playing it forward.

JoaniI know that some of you who read my blog are grandparents, mothers,   aunts, and so forth. All of us influence the little people in our lives, and somehow we teach them at an important juncture.

You are passing on a part of yourself. The children will see you as their true heritage. They will remember the gifts you gave them and hopefully pass them on.

It’s amazing what you didn’t think they really got. My youngest son, now a dad himself, reminded me that how people treat you is their Karma; how you react is your own. He got that from me and reminded me when I forgot.

My granddaughter Madeline, now a college student, told me that unforgiveness is a poison someone takes themselves, hoping the other person will die. “Where did you learn that?” I asked. “You,” she said coyly.

Actually, I have had some great teachers that played it forward to me.

I remember my own grandmother only dimly. She died when I was very young. She was born in Poland and spoke very little English. She worked hard and had little. We communicated through hugs and kisses.

As a little girl, I slept with her when I visited. My grandfather had his own room. The bedroom always smelled like liniment, and we slept under a big, white feather quilt. She cuddled me and said prayers in Polish. I felt loved and safe with her. In the morning she stood me on the big old drain board in the kitchen, filled the sink with soapy water and proceeded to wash me tenderly and brush my hair, making soothing sounds while I complained noisily.

She rarely scolded me and almost always took my side, much to my Auntie Helen’s chagrin. My aunt was still living at home at that time — a beautiful young woman, she was engaged to be married. She often showed me her ring, and one day I tiptoed into her room and took it. I buried it in the front yard. I’d like to think I didn’t want her to get married and leave the house and me. Honestly, I really don’t know why I took it.

She suspected I was the villain, but I wouldn’t tell her where it was. Auntie chased me all around the house, and I ran and clung to my Busia (“grandmother” in Polish). She covered me with her apron, drew me into her large, soft stomach and shouted angrily at my aunt. I couldn’t understand anything, but I knew she was protecting me. She always did, even when I was bad.  She took me aside and somehow managed to communicate that I wasn’t bad… but the thing I had done was.  I learned that even if I did bad things, I had worth.

When my grandmother died — much too soon — I saw my own mother grieve and weep as I had never witnessed before. My own sadness was multiplied seeing my mom so heartbroken. My mother was a reflection of her mother. Her heritage was one of true strength. They both believed that in life you do what you have to do. In hard times, they both inherently knew “things” were not important. They knew not to cry over things that cannot cry over you.

I now have seven grandchildren, and it is so important to me to pass on the good things in life to them — like the gift of positive thinking and what is really REAL in life.  I would like them to have memories of being protected and loved unconditionally and to play it forward themselves.

We are all playing it forward, whether or not we recognize it. It is what we do that defines us. That is the real deal.


  1. Kathryn says

    Love this article, Joani. Goes right along with a bible study I just finished. Like you said it’s not what you have, but what you do that defines you!

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