A delightful lady named Nadia called this week to chat.
Nadia had read our last two blogs on The Habit of Dealing with It and over the past weekend had discussed that very topic with her grandmother.
The purpose of her call was to share with me her grandmother’s take on The Habit of Dealing with It.
Born in 1928, a child of the Great Depression, her grandmother learned The Habit of Dealing with It at a very early age. Her early childhood was steeped in poverty with her father enduring long periods of unemployment and the family subsisting on whatever little offerings the few odd jobs he could find, provided.
She inherited from her parents a stoicism that has stood her in good stead to this very day.
At the age of six her father was killed in a train accident leaving her mother, who had never held a job, the sole caregiver and provider for five young children.
To say their lives were tough would be an enormous understatement. But they endeared.
They all quickly learned that the best way to deal with adversity is to deal with adversity.
It was apparent to all that complaining, whining, and developing helplessness was no way to overcome the challenges that life had dealt them and all six of them, with Nadia’s grandmother being the youngest, pitched in uncomplainingly to try, each in their own way, to make life a little more bearable for the rest of the family.
Her grandmother too was widowed in her early 20s, ironically also by a train accident and, like her mother before her, had to find the means to support and raise her own four children.
And she did so in stellar fashion. She cleaned offices at night and mended clothes by day. She became an astute shopper stretching every dollar the beyond the breaking point to ensure that there was always enough food on the table for her four kids.
On many occasion there was none left over for her. And she dealt with it.
As her childhood had melded her into The Habit of Dealing with It she unhesitatingly bore the challenges and difficulties visited on those raising four children in poverty and, despite all odds, was able to set enough money aside – “One penny at a time” – to help each of her four children get a head start on the education she was never able to afford for herself.
Despite near unbearable hardship she never once deviated from her goal of raising high functioning, progressive, non-complaining and high achieving children and, when asked, each of them, without hesitation, would attest to never once hearing their mother complain about her lot in life or allow herself to be overcome by life’s challenges.
Nadia’s mother, a product of the same stock, instilled in her children the same Habit of Dealing with It which she told me has stood her in good stead throughout her entire life.
Her grandmother is cynical of how the world has shifted and during their discussion last Sunday, she shared with Nadia her disappointment on how soft, ill-prepared and ill-equipped we have become as a society in dealing with adversity.
We are so coddled, sheltered and protected that our coping skills have not been given an opportunity to develop and for many of us an event that sends us into the depths of depression, stress and helplessness (like the power outage of two weeks ago) would not have caused people of her generation to as much as flinch.
Her grandmother proclaimed that The Habit of Dealing with It is an attitude that brings with it resolve and determination which is a birthright but which so many have set aside in favour of complaining or just plain giving up.
Her grandmother, having accomplished what she has, has unquestionably earned the right to voice her opinion and to enjoin us to toughen up.
At 86 she is living proof that The Habit of Dealing with It is all that stands between hope and hopelessness when things get tough.
God bless her – we sure could use a few more like her.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.