Sarah was running to catch the bus. She was in a rush to get to the restaurant where she was meeting her brother for a late lunch. She just managed to jump onto the bus and sat down to catch her breath. The bus trundled along and Sarah realized that she would still be late and that James would tease her saying that she was always late – and he would be right. It was just how she was, always in a rush, always busy, always late. And she didn’t like it, but didn’t feel there was much she could do about it. It was part of her personality, she thought. Or maybe it was just habit. She wasn’t sure. Either way, it didn’t help her right now as she felt a bit down anyway. There was so much going on at the moment; things were stressful at work and it hadn’t been made any easier by the fact that she had been hoping for a promotion but hadn’t got it in the end. Instead it had gone to one of her colleagues, whom Sarah reluctantly must admit was probably better for the role. It still stung though, the fact that she had been rejected – that’s how it felt anyway. She tried to think of something else to shake off the feeling; it felt like she had failed.
By the time she threw herself down onto her chair at Carluccio’s, opposite her brother, he was already sipping a frosty glass of beer while studying the menu.
“Sorry I’m late!” she exclaimed and smiled apologetically at him.
He nodded and smiled back: “Yes, dear sister, you always are. No worries”
Having ordered their food, James brought up the subject of the upcoming family reunion that was due to take place 25th of January. It was going to be the first time they would all meet since their grandma Maureen had died earlier that year, and James wondered what it would be like.
“It will be strange not having her there” agreed Sarah. “I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. I’ve been so used to her always being there, I just thought she would be around forever. I know that sounds silly, but there’s never been life without her, if you know what I mean”
James nodded slowly.
“All our lives she has quietly shared bits of her life with us and recently I’ve thought more about what she was actually saying….” Sarah trailed off.
“Anyway, I’m getting sentimental, let’s eat” she continued as their plates were presented to them. She was secretly relieved not to have to go down the sentimental route.
An hour later they waved goodbye and Sarah headed down the road towards the park. She decided that it would be nice to walk home. The sun was out and the January day was surprisingly clement.
As she walked into the park, her eyes were drawn to a little girl sitting on the bench with her legs dangling merrily in the air. She was looking up at an elderly woman with a bright red knitted hat. The woman’s eyes were gleaming with joy and Sarah was hit by how youthful she looked despite her weathered face with lines and wrinkles. It was as if she was lit up from within.
It’s another grandmother, she thought. It was as if it was impossible not to think of her grandmother today! There was also something about this woman that reminded her of her own grandmother. She tried not to stare as she studied her hard to figure out what it was.
There it was again! There was a look in the older woman’s eyes that was so familiar. The look that said: “it’s all OK. There’s no need to worry. It will all be OK”. It was comforting, it drew you in, it made you feel good and safe.
Sarah reveled in the feeling and found herself smiling as she extended her strides with renewed energy. Seeing the woman with her granddaughter had made her happy and hopeful, for the first time in a long while.
Grandmother Maureen had always had the unique knack of seeing the good things in life. Whatever had happened in their family, she had been able to see something good in it. Her motto had been “It will all be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end”.
Sarah had often found this outlook too simplistic and almost naïve in it’s optimistic style, but it now hit her that her grandmother had indeed had a happy life despite a number of disappointments and sorrows. Sarah’s grandmother had somehow made a choice to always look for the bright side of something, and in doing so she had achieved just that. And if she could do it with more reasons to be unhappy than Sarah had, then surely I could do it too, Sarah pondered. Could it be a good thing that I didn’t get the promotion? What would grandma have said? Probably something like:
“There will be something better for you around the corner, and if you had received that promotion you would have missed the upcoming opportunity. Don’t look back in regret, love – look ahead with gratitude”
As her grandmother’s voice was suddenly deafeningly loud in her head, Sarah could feel the tears well up in her eyes – how she missed grandma Maureen! And as suddenly as the feeling of sadness came over her, she felt it subside again as she realized that her grandmother had been right and that she should be happy that the old lady had been in her life and shared her life experience and strategy with her, instead of being sad.
Yes, I think she was right. I think there will be something better around the corner for me, something that suits me better, something that will make me happier and where I can be more successful. In fact, I will go look for it! Thank you, dearest Maureen – I know now that you will always be with me, your spirit lives in me, as I guess it always did but I took it for granted – I’ll pay it forward.
Sarah continued home with a new sense of determination, and a smile on her face. She was pleased with her newfound wisdom and excited by what she was going to do next.
About the Authors:
Mandy and Elisabet started their collaboration when they both held senior leadership positions at American Express’ European head office in Brighton and have gone on to run their own successful international businesses in the UK and Sweden since 2000-2001. They have coached and developed executives and teams all over the world in leading global organizations as well as smaller, local companies and associations.