On Grandma, the Marathon, and Grandma’s Marathon

My friend Gretchen is running Grandma’s Marathon this weekend (Run GG Run!) and my other friend Emily thought of the fantastic idea for several of us to put together the best advice that Grandma ever gave us to give to Gretchen in a send off package. This got me thinking about my Grandma Vivian (who I called “Nanny”) and the advice that she gave me throughout her life. Interestingly enough, the very last time I saw her was in the fall of 2006 during the weekend of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which also happens to be the last marathon I completed.

I have a box full of letters from Nanny and went searching through them for bits and pieces of advice from her for one that stood out as both meaningful and applicable to running as well as life in general.

LettersfromNanny

There are years worth of cards, letters, newspaper clippings and memories in the box. I had not read these letters in years and it was a joy to read through them today (Thank you, Emily!). In many ways, I felt like I was receiving these letters from my grandmother all over again. The one piece of advice that stood out to me repeatedly as I sorted through the stuff was this: Life is so much easier if you have a sense of humor. She had sent me an Ann Landers advice column with that advice (as well as many other jokes and reminders to have fun), and I remember her smiling, laughing and joking constantly. Here is the full text of the Ann Landers clipping that my grandmother had sent me many years ago:

Dear Ann Landers:

When I read the letter from “St. Pete” about the man who dressed up as Batman and ended up hitting his head on the ceiling fan, it reminded me of an embarrassing incident that happened years ago.

My husband and I were newlyweds, getting ready to attend a Halloween party given by friends. I came home from work and asked my hubby to answer the door for the trick-or-treaters while I took a bath. As I was running the water, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to play a trick on him?” So I put on my flapper raccoon coat and a mask, and without a stitch on under the coat, I sneaked around the house and rang the doorbell. When my husband answered, I threw open my coat and shouted, “Trick or treat!” He was so stunned that he backed up, fell down the steps of the sunken living room, hit his head and knocked himself unconscious. I phoned for an ambulance and had to explain to the authorities what happened. My husband was taken to the hospital, where they said he had suffered a concussion. We never made it to the Halloween party, and, of course, I had to tell my friends why. They thought it was hilarious. My husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary soon. I still love Halloween but have refrained from pulling any more startling surprises. Life is so much easier if you have a sense of humor. –Toni in Long Island, N.Y.

Dear Toni: What a story! Laughter is indeed the elixir of life, and it can be a great protector. There are times when, if we couldn’t laugh, we’d cry.

If my grandmother were here today, and if she knew Gretchen, I think she would say “Don’t forget to laugh this weekend!” Indeed, laughter is great medicine. My grandmother laughed a lot, and she lived a long, happy life. She and my grandfather were married for over 60 years. Below is a photo of them celebrating their first anniversary on the beach, and celebrating again many years later (after 50+ years of marriage) at my cousin’s wedding:

IMG_5989

So cheers to laughter, to grandmas, to marathons, to Grandma’s Marathon, and last but not least, to Gretchen. May you run fast, run strong, laugh often, and have a big awesome celebration at the end! xoxo

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