The photograph on the left was taken last year on the way to my sister’s Going Home Service in Maryland in December. That’s my 100-year old mother reading a menu at a seafood restaurant. She has a cellphone in the pocket of the jacket she’s wearing. She never leaves home without it and the emergency medical alert chain around her neck. She uses her cellphone to call folks like me; her two other children; six grandchildren; her AKA sorority sisters; friends and her neighbors.
The photograph on the right was also taken last in December. That’s my 3-year old granddaughter in reindeer clown makeup. We’d just returned from the main branch of the NY public library at Fifth Avenue. We had gone to NYPL’s Christmas Open House for children. There she is relaxing with her mother’s cellphone in a chair made just her. (That’s what I told her as her mother and I put the two chairs together).
As she sometimes does, my granddaughter is watching one of her favorite movies. She loves Sophia, Frozen, Pound Puppies and so many more kiddie movies I can’t remember. At three, she can scroll down screens; she can enlarge or reduce objects on the screen; she can search for Netflix, Google or Y-tube to find kiddie movies she wants to watch. So far she hasn’t used the cellphone to speak with friends or call in emergencies.
The commonality and the differences in two subjects, had me wondering what life would be like for my granddaughter in let’s say twenty years, when she’s twenty-three. What advice would I give her now to help her live her future life?
Please remember Little One, this letter is not meant to lecture you. I’m sure you’ll get more than enough preaching sessions from your parents, your teachers, your friends and
others in your life. I won’t tell you how to live your life. I’m writing this letter to tell you about experiences in my life and what I’ve learned about myself as I experienced them.
I’ve learned several things in my numerous years on this earth. Here’s some of those things. Live independently for at least two or three years before hooking up with anybody. When I say living independently, I mean finding a space be it a room or an apartment or a house that you are completely responsible for paying the rent; the utilities; doing the cleaning and maintenance for the space. I also mean doing your own laundry; buying your own food and cooking your food if you know how. In other words, taking on the task of doing all those things your parents did for you now become yours to do.
When I mention hooking up, I mean as in loving, sleeping with and living with someone exclusively. Don’t fall into a relationship as I did. There’s an old saying about loving yourself first before you can truly love anybody and I agree wholeheartedly with it. I was twenty when I moved to New York. Within six months I’d met your father’s father and was considering an exclusive relationship. I thought we had an exclusive one for five years but I was young, silly and a bit stupid too. There was so much, maybe too much I didn’t know about myself or him.
I won’t go over the sordid details of my divorce, except to say get know yourself first. Spend time having fun; making friends and dating like crazy before you decide on exclusivity with that one special person. Explore the world around you. This is the time in your life to try new things. Sure it will be scary at first. Just know, the good things you learn about yourself always are a little scary in the beginning but in the end you love what you’ve learned.
Three other pieces of advice I can give you that worked for me are these. Never stop learning. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open for new experiences, then use them to help you go through life. Secondly, make one or two good friends and keep them throughout your life. Lovers come and they go. Friends, the really good ones support you when you need it; leave you alone when you need it; and seemed to know when to do each action. Finally, find something you believe in strongly then fight for what you believe.
I can finally claim to have done all of the things I mentioned. Some things didn’t turn out as well I thought they would but I learned not to do it that way again or I learned I should have put more effort into it.
Well Little One, I hope you’ll find this letter useful. If I’m still around when you turn twenty-three, I want we’ll talk about it. Maybe you’ll write one to me.
Thanks for reading,
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