Gigi & Me

What you put out there, will come true.

It’s the law of the universe, the law of attraction, the big secret that if you just sit quietly for a few minutes, you’ll learn.

If you worry that the other shoe is going to drop any minute, it will.

If you believe you will live a long, healthy life, you will.

Today my dear friend Roz is going under the knife to remove both breasts and a bunch of lymph nodes. She has friends who have died of cancer, but she is stronger than I’ve ever seen her. She’ll make it through the awful path she’s walking over the next nine months and come out the other side, stronger, better, with a renewed appreciation for life.

It’s the only way.

If you focus on the terrible endings of tragedies and fairy tales, you’ll live them.

If you believe your life is wonderful, it will continue to be.

Last night, I celebrated with a wonderful client, Jewish Senior Life, at their fourth annual meeting. These are the people who care for our older adults. And one of the things (among many) that struck me, which I am all too familiar with on a personal level, is the idea that there are seniors who run out of money but not out of healthy years to live.

That’s a stunning realization, that someone could outlive their means. All the years we work, all the money we save, all the things we do to help others, to give back – and then to end up at the end of one’s life, destitute and alone? It is just not right.

My grandmother is 90. The past year of her life has been the hardest, and it saddens me to see my lovely, elegant grandmother, who has always had more vigor and passion than anyone I knew, slow down and be burdened with a body that won’t keep up with her mind. 

Last year, on the verge of turning 40, I pledged to do 40 things that make the world better in the year that I was 40. It was my most invigorating year yet. I achieved my goal and then some and now, I look at the world through a lens of giving, so imbued with the spirit of helping others.

One of those causes that I am striving to support is a wonderful fund at Jewish Senior Life called Acts of Lovingkindness. It’s the support for seniors who have nothing left. I never want to be that; none of us do.

And that’s what community is all about – no one should ever reach a point of having no one and nothing. It’s why we build relationships all the years of our lives. So we can be there for others, and they for us.

My grandparents taught me so much. I remember Shabbat dinners at their Southfield home when I was little, Grandpa standing and staring a gazeless gaze as he whipped through Kiddush. He always made the salad, chopping hard-boiled egg into tiny dice.

He and Grandma laughed, all the time. One started, and the other couldn’t hold back. The same went for their tears – one welled up, and even if the other was across the room, out of their sight-line, simultaneous tears happened. It was like magic.

For dessert at their Shabbat table, Fudgsicles. It was the ’70s and early ’80s, and the smell of my grandparents’ home was one of love – brisket slow-cooking, sweet Sabbath wine, the lingering scent of a recently baked challah. 

Their hands were so soft; even in my teens, I never hesitated to sit close and hold one of their hands.

The power of a relationship like this is indescribable. That we have become a society that abandons our elderly – well, we abandon our children, too, so don’t get me started on that – it’s unbelievable to me. And unacceptable.

Every day is a gift, every relationship a joy, even the trying ones. We are on purposeful paths, all of us, and the people who intersect are meant to be in our lives. Embrace what you have and who you know. Look for the meaning in the moments. And don’t waste any of them. Life is just too short.

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