I had a conversation with two lovely ladies just the other day. It had been about a year since I last saw one, and the other it's been around 12 years. We'll call the first "N" and the second "G." Here's how our conversation went. Me: Hi! I guess it's been a while. I'm sorry about that, I've certainly missed you both.
G: That's all right, I've been getting updates every now and then. You've grown up!
N: You've been busy.
Me: I've definitely been busy. I also have a new job!
G: That's wonderful, I'm so proud of you! You're such a hard worker.
N: Oh? A new job? And what are you doing?
Me: Well, I guess it's a little hard to explain. I work for a company that's bringing a special kind of new technology called 3D printing to the market. It's a way for people to create things using a particular type of machine. My job is to market it and sell it, especially to the jewelry industry.
G: Sounds exciting! I'm sure you're great at it. You always loved talking to people.
N: Is it expensive? Do they make you travel a lot?
Me: It's not expensive relative to other machines that do a similar thing. Yes, I do get to talk to a lot of people and travel quite a bit, but I love it!
N: What about your husband? You need to make sure you're spending enough time with him. That's really important.
Me: Yes, it is. We try to spend time with each other, and our families too.
G: I'm sure you do. Your mother and father miss you a lot, you know.
N: Well, she can't be everywhere at once. But as long as you're happy and doing a good job, it will be good for you.
Imagine having these ladies perched on your shoulders, whispering questions and comments! One is an eternal optimist, reminding me to be kind and thoughtful whenever possible (or even when it's not); the other is a consummate realist, insisting that I keep a watchful eye on my own words and actions, not to mention the habits of everyone around me. Both continue to guide me with the occasional tug on my ears to correct my course.
Chanel perfume, hand-knitted blankets. Grace and poise, kindness and gentility.
We lost Nana and Grandma in April, just over a decade apart. Both were cornerstones of their respective families, and represented two very different but equally important styles of living: the homemaker and the working woman.
I imagine the conversations I'd have with each of them now, as a woman and wife and worker. They might ask about my marriage and job, the details of my latest vacation or recently read novel, or if I'm keeping up with my studies. In their own special ways, they would ultimately be asking one simple question: are you happy? Because despite their differences, that's what always mattered most. And that's the greatest lesson I could ever hope to learn.