I believe that life lessons are worth sharing. Like inventions. Life lessons are essentially life hacks from someone who has lived and learned and is willing to share their knowledge. They come in all shapes and sizes for all applications so we all don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Lessons can also be learned third hand.
Today is November 1. All Saints Day. Makes me think of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s journey and experience of 27 years in jail paved the way for life lessons that everyone in this world continue to learn every day. For example, back in 1999, at the age of 81, at Rice University’s Baker Institute, Mandela said in a speech:
“I am not a saint
unless you think of a saint as
a sinner who keeps trying” – Nelson Mandela
I have always viewed Mandela with special admiration. I bring up Mandela because like him, Papa lived his life with reverence, grace and patience. They both passed away in December of their 95th year and they both shared a similar look in their eyes.
Mandela lived an extraordinary life. Released in 1990 when I was 18, it was not long before I left Barbados to move to Canada for university. It’s strange, my memories of Mandela whenever I see a photo, or video, or quote, sometimes intertwine with my thoughts of Papa. After winning the Nobel Peace Price in 1993, Mr. Mandela would become the President of South Africa at the age of 76 until 1999. Mandela shared his knowledge and experiences passionately through his work, his meetings and in his travels around the globe. Through his hardship we have all been made the wiser.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”. This is my favourite Mandela quote. Papa’s marriage to Nana seemed impossible at times. And yet, it lasted 65 years, until death did them part. Now I am not suggesting by any means that Papa’s marriage to Nana was a prison sentence. Papa had a life sentence in his love and devotion for Nana.
It is really difficult to put into words the extent of Papa’s devotion. Unwavering. Selfless. Saintly even. I can only touch the surface of all that Papa was by sharing a simple story. Imagine this. You are walking in your local supermarket doing a daily, weekly or monthly grocery run and you hear over the speaker system:
“Mr. Brennan. Can you please come to the customer service desk? Mrs. Brennan is on the phone for you.”
True story. Papa spent his life enduring in service to Nana whom he loved more than anything. He dutifully drove to the supermarket every day, sometimes more than once, or even twice, to get whatever provisions were needed by Nana at Tremont. If Nana needed cheese to make her macaroni pie, Papa jumped into the car and sped off to Big B behind the wheel. If Nana needed Dettol, Papa jumped in the car and headed to remedy the problem behind the wheel. If Nana forgot something and Papa had already left, the announcement above was the solution. Nana’s solution, at least. No cell phones existed in their time. What did Papa do when Nana called the supermarket? He went to the service desk and got the message. Then he got what Nana needed. No questions. Papa had the patience of Job. That right there deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. Papa was quiet when he needed to be, yet firm in his convictions. He never raised his voice, regardless of what was happening. Papa stood by Nana right until it was all done. A life lesson we can all learn from.