My Grandma Turned 96 Years Old: Celebrating Lil

Can you even imagine what it would feel like to turn 96 years old?

On September 10, 2018, my grandma Lil turned 96 years old and I was by her side to celebrate it.

On November 3, 2018, my grandma passed away.

If you know me well, you know how important my grandma was to me.

I spoke to my grandma on the phone every day when she was alive.

Lil was such a huge force in my life, so in 2016, I decided that so long as my grandmother was still celebrating birthdays, I would be there to do it with her.

Celebrating Lil:

I took an unpaid week off work to spend time on Long Island, NY with family.

It’s not something that I’ve ever done before, but I realized that family is so important.

Getting more quality time with my family was one of the major goals that I set for myself in 2018 and I’m proud of how I’ve committed to it. 

Seeing that I live in Buffalo, it’s not often that I get to spend time with my family on Long Island.

So, being with my family to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Lil’s birthday was very special for me.

We had a lot of laughs as my grandma and dad tried to teach me some Yiddish, and my grandma cracked me up asking me why I would pay for a pair of pants with holes in them.

I left the family-filled week with six major takeaways:

  • Time moves quickly: The older we get, the faster time seems to pass because it’s all relative to what we’ve already experienced. To a 96-year-old, one year feels like a literal minute. To a six-year-old, it feels like a lot longer. Every time Lil looked into a camera, she’d ask who the old lady was. She didn’t recognize herself in her reflection, and it’s easy to understand why. The time just flew.
  • Time with family is precious: I don’t get it often enough. It was priceless to meet my cousin’s child for the first time and see the look on my grandma’s face when looking at her great-grandson.
  • Love is worth working for: Lil had asked me a lot in her final months if I had a “man I can rely on.” She reminded me daily that life isn’t easy and if we’ve found someone that helps make the crappy days tolerable, it’s worth holding on to. Finding someone to weather the storms with you makes everything more bearable. “If you’ve found the right one, you have to hold on,” she’d always remind me.
  • We’re not getting younger: Time moves fast. I literally remember Lil’s 90th birthday like it was last year. The speed at which time passes inspires me to continue taking chances and living with bravery.
  • Money is just a means: Money is just a tool to make things happen. I like to use my money on experiences rather than things. I think that if you’re using your money to amass more stuff, you’re going to start to miss that money. I’ll be honest that I’ve never once missed the dollars that I’ve spent on flights to see family.
  • So much is out of our control: We don’t control the weather or the way others behave. The most we can do is try our best. All we can ask is to show up as the best version of ourselves everywhere we go.

I have my grandma to thank so much for helping me realize what I can do to tap into my best self.

I have Lil to thank for teaching me Yiddish and the importance of throwing away the bad.

My grandma inspired me every day of her life to find the joy in every day and make the most of every second that I have. 

I’m so proud to be her granddaughter.

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