I know a family who handles hard times by referring to them as memories. “We’ve just made a memory,” they’ll say in the face of some new setback. Good strategy. No matter how bad it gets, they’re always richer in memories.
In the 1920s, when she was in her 80s, my great grandmother, Sophia, decided automobiles were part of the modern world. A person had to drive to stay in the driver’s seat. With that in mind, she talked her youngest son, my grandfather, into giving her a driving lesson—one of the most talked about events in our family. Sophia, I’m told, was never a woman given to compromise. She was strictly all or nothing. In short, she drove with the same steely stubbornness with which she’d built the family ranch from scratch.
Full gas. Full brake. Hard right. Hard left.
She scared the life out of every man, woman, child and rooster that happened to be around that day. No one has forgotten that morning, even those, like me, who only know it second-hand. Sophia never learned to drive. Supposedly that morning was the moment she knew she was old. Before that, she’d never met a challenge she couldn’t match. However, if she was old, she wasn’t defeated. Instead of driving cars, she bought cars. She bought cars for kids, grandkids, even some of the hired help—anyone she thought she might need to drive her someplace. What they remember is not her need, but her generosity.
Those of us with less goods, don’t have to be less generous. Ranches, like hard times, come and go. Stories stick. If you have a story, you have something to share. If you have more than one story, you’re rich. If you tell your stories with a largeness of spirit, the world will sit at your knee.