I’m writing this piece on August 11, the day after my paternal grandma lost a multi-year battle with unexplained fluid accumulation around her heart and lungs.
She was 84 years old, and a hell of a smart lady.
As a mother who raised of 5 kids in a 2 bedroom house, she was the epitome of hard work and sacrifice. Always the root of the Valdez family, she saw multiple generations of us through plenty of difficult times.
Like every good grandma does, she indirectly taught me a lot about life, love and family. But I want to share a couple of quick lessons that were distinct to Grandma Valdez.
1. A busy mind is a healthy mind
While her body may have recently failed her, my grandma’s mental game was 100% on point until the very end. Since I can remember, that lady had jigsaw puzzles in progress under her tablecloth and a notepad of doodles by her telephone. A book of crossword puzzles, word searches, or sudoku games always hung out on the TV tray next to her couch. We still payed dominos at every holiday gathering, which only recently broke the multi-generation Scrabble routine.
I know that regardless of how much I love athletics, my mind is more valuable than my physique will ever be. I will do everything I can to end up like her, sharp as a tack and independently thinking until the end of my days.
2. You only need what you have
I’ve always pushed my boundaries, tested my limits, and strived for improvement. While it typically serves me more than it hinders me, I can often get lost in my pursuits of thinking I need everything as soon as possible.
Like I mentioned above, my father is one of 5 children. My grandpa built the house they grew up in, which at the time only had 2 bedrooms. To this day, it still has 1 bathroom, and does not have a clothes washer or dryer. It’s crazy to think that 7 people existed in something smaller than my current apartment that I share with Brandon.
My grandma and I have talked about this many times — about how it’s so unimaginable to me that she sustained that kind of household without worry or complaint for decades. When asked “how she did it”, she always said “we had no other choice. We just made it work.” And for that, I can only admire her with everything I have.
To date, I have been fortunate enough to possess the skills and creativity needed to make due with every situation that’s been thrown at me in life. But sometimes I fall into the trap of wanting to hire another person, buy an app, or purchase some equipment that will “make my life easier” when all I really need is to put my head down and do the work. Just because I can afford something doesn’t mean I need it. And just because I have the time, does mean I should slack off.
In sports, I can channel my inner Grandma Valdez without fail. But in business or personal life, I struggle to get on her level sometimes. Luckily I have our plethora of previous conversations as top-of-mind memories to help me out with this.
While I could probably write hundreds of thousands of words about our life together, this brief memorial article serves me well for now. The rest will most likely go into my personal journal as it comes to mind for many years to come.
RIP, Grandma. I will miss you so dearly. Thank you for everything ❤️