I was blessed enough to spend time with Grandpa Bruce this morning, and I am so very thankful to have him in my life. And then I started thinking about my actual grandparents (because ya'll know that Grandpa Bruce isn't a blood relative) and how much I miss them, and how I didn't ever get to meet my Daddy's parents (they both died before I was born)...which got me thinking about other members of my family, blood and not-blood, and how I learn so much from them, even when they really hurt me.
Dad: He taught me that I have worth, and that I have value and that I should never settle for less. Despite me being a horrible, stupid bratty kid (my words, not his), he always loved me, even when he had to be tough. Dad taught me about tact, and keeping relationships together, even when there may not be a strong foundation.
Mom: I'm learning from her the value of forgiveness, both giving and getting. We've misunderstood each other so much in the past, and we're working on it now. I love talking to her and I love working on our relationship. I'm learning more about cooking in my culture, and the tips and tricks to Polish recipes.
Grandma Aniela: (Mom's Mom) She taught me to take no crap from anyone, ever. She taught me the value of church, the value of prayer. She taught me that it's okay to climb a tree in a dress every once in a while.
Grandpa Wladyslaw: (Mom's Dad) He taught me that everyone is human, and that there is an incredible bravery in everyone. He taught me not to be afraid of airplanes and he taught me that people can surprise you if you let them.
Grandma Marianna: (Dad's Mom) I never got to meet her, but I know she was a sweet, gentle woman, who gave birth to my aunt Josie in a concentration camp. She taught me about bravery and how fierce a mother's love for her kids can be.
Grandpa Franciszek: (Dad's Dad) I never met him either, but I know he was a quiet man who worked hard. On my hard days, I think about him, supporting 4 kids who all turned out to be amazing people. I think about him, in a concentration camp, and how brave he must have been, and I remember that whatever I am facing, I can get through it.
Great Aunt Bernice: She taught me that not every example is a good one. That not everything that sparkles is worth it. She taught me what I don't want from a marriage, and motherhood.
Great Uncle Karol: (Aunt Bernice's husband) He taught me to dance the waltz. He taught me to look for the magic in the little stuff, to skip down the park paths, and to be cheerful in my work, whatever that is.
Aunt Stacy: She taught me that forgiveness isn't for the other person, it's for me. She also taught me to be careful with my words, because other people may not always be.
Gosia: (the oldest blood sister) She taught me that sometimes things aren't worth trying to save. That sometimes, you can love from far away, without getting involved in hurtful things. She taught me what I don't want to be like, and that despite what other people may say, I am enough.
Gabe: (my husband) He taught me that I can come back from being completely broken, that I can pull myself up and that I can go on, no matter how hard it is. He taught me that the Bible is SO INCREDIBLY important and he showed me why I need a relationship with Christ. He taught me that if I want something, I have to fight for it.
Riley Grace: (my firstborn, in heaven) She taught me that I am so much tougher than I look. She taught me love and compassion, and that I am worth something. That I love motherhood.
Ella: (my first living child) She's taught me a world of things. She showed me that even after something so horrific as the loss of a baby during pregnancy, there is hope. She teaches me every day to be a better person.
Bill: (Gabe's Dad) He taught me a big lesson in forgiveness. He taught me that I cannot judge people without speaking to them. He showed me that I'm not alone, even though I may think I am sometimes. He showed me that forgiveness can turn an ugly situation into something beautiful.
North Carolina Mom: She taught me that sometimes, it's just nice to do something good for someone, just because you can. She taught me how to make creampuffs. She taught me that a movie and popsicles are sometimes the best medicine. She taught me how to cook Spam Casserole...I learned on my own that it was a terrible idea ;)
Ms. Lora (fake grandma): She taught me how to sit still and listen. She taught me how to really, really love others. She taught me what a real Christian lady was like. She taught me even more to love motherhood, and cherish every single second.
Grandpa Bruce: He taught me how to care for tomatoes, and that sometimes, family isn't blood. He taught me to make chicken and dumplings, and pepper steak. He taught me the value of sitting on a porch with a green popsicle and watching a kid on a swing.
Grandma Jean: She taught me that marriage is important. She taught me that you can go through a terrible loss and still emerge a lady of grace. She taught me about loving my child, and that avocado goes with absolutely everything. She also taught me that sometimes, a rose has more value when you give it to someone else.
I'm still learning, every day. Even if it's a lesson that hurts, I'm grateful.