From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

Grandma’s Wisdom

Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The most valuable thing I own is a file that contains about fifty letters. The letters are from an old lady of eighty-four years—my grandmother. They may not have value in the eyes of a grown-up, but for a ten-year-old like myself, they are priceless pearls of wisdom passed on to a grandson by a grandmother who lived her life to the fullest.

My mom is an attorney, who spent most of her time working while I was growing up. My grandma looked after me and was like a second mother to me.

Grandma was not very educated, but she had common sense. She showed me that life’s simple pleasures bring us the most happiness, and that you cannot buy it with money.

Grandma used to take me for walks to show me the beauty in nature. While my parents spoiled me with expensive toys, I preferred her homemade toys, which she created with her own weary hands.

From the age of two, I can remember her reading to me. She introduced me to world-famous classics. By the time I was four, I was able to read classics like Oliver Twist and Great Expectations.

But when I was five, Grandma moved away to Australia. She was sad to leave, but after Granddad died, she found it difficult to manage on her own. My uncle, who lives in Australia, offered to help her out, so she agreed to go. She was sad, and I felt the same.

I missed her right away. But then, one week after she left, a letter arrived.

Dear Grandson,
    I miss you a lot. But do you know absence makes hearts grow fonder? Write to me if you feel low and bored.

So I started writing to her. I poured out all my problems into my letters. I was bullied in school, and I was called a brat by a kid who was older than me. I hated going to school after that.

I wrote to her:

    I’m being bullied at school. I feel hurt.

She wrote back:

Dear Grandson,
    Just follow my instructions when the bully says something to hurt you. Tell him that you are hard of hearing and to repeat what he said again. He will repeat it. Keep on telling him that you did not hear, and he will get fed up and leave you alone.

I followed her instructions, and that was the end of the bullying.

Last year, we were having our annual sports meet at school. I’ve always hated sports. I would always come in last in races. All my classmates were stronger and older than me, and I couldn’t compete with them. But my mom was forcing me to run in the race.

I wrote to Grandma:

    Grandma, I’m not good in sports, but Mom is making me run in the race at school. I do not want to.

She wrote back:

Dear Grandson,
   I heard a song recently that had a wonderful message.
There may be mountain peaks you have to climb on, there may be rivers fast and wide you may have to ride on. Unless you dream, unless you try, how will you know how far you can fly? Remember these words and believe in yourself.

So I participated in the event, and my classmate and I had to pass the ball between us four times and run to the finishing line. We managed to pass the ball without dropping it, and we made it to the line. The referee announced that we had won third prize out of seventeen children who were much stronger than us.

Once I returned home, I wrote to Grandma:

Thank you for your advice. I believed in myself and won third place in the race. I love you.

Two weeks later, a package came in the mail. Grandma had sent a baseball cap and a pair of roller skates.

Letters passed between us every week. She often sent quotes by great people from newspapers and magazines. All of them, in one way or another, told me the same thing: “Believe in yourself, then you can reach even the farthest star.”

I kept all of Grandma’s letters in a file. When I felt low and sad, I would read them one by one. They lifted my spirits, and I came back to my old self again. Last week, a letter arrived.

Dear Grandson,
    I have bought a computer. I will be corresponding with you by e-mail.

I checked my e-mail. Her letter had arrived. All the words were typed without using the space bar in between.

I wrote back:

Grandma, please use the space bar.

She sent another e-mail.

Dear Grandson,
    I’m taking a computer course. I should improve on
my typing by the time I finish in April.

I was shocked to hear that at eighty-four years of age, my grandma was taking a computer course. At ten, I felt tired after doing a little bit of homework! She taught me another lesson this time. There is no age limit to reach for the stars; you can reach them at ten . . . or eighty-four, if you only try a little harder each time.

The lessons my grandma taught in her letters will forever remain the most valuable and treasured possession I own.

Rahul de Livera, 10

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