Pearls of Wisdom

It’s days like today I’m thankful to be so sentimental (or, as some well-meaning friends say, “a packrat”).

Upon digging through several boxes of kept items during the wee hours of the morning, I made some pretty interesting discoveries. Among other things, I found such ridiculous items as pogs (remember pogs?!?) a pre-orthodontic mold of my teeth and a few embarrassingly amateur watercolor paintings.

But I also extricated quite the stash of sticker-studded, magazine-clipping adorned, handwritten letters—all from my late grandma, Colleen.

Seeing that her memorial service was held only a couple of weeks ago, the timing of this find was impeccable. During my pre-teen years, we sent hundreds of letters from Boise to Blackfoot and vice versa. And I unearthed the most valuable half of the correspondence.

"Granny's advice that's short sweet...and to the point"

Inside stickered envelopes, I found comic strips, snipped from the Sunday paper. There are letters, composed entirely with words and phrases cut from magazines, much like a cheerful ransom note. I even found a light-hearted letter, written entirely in rhyme, that forebodes her eventual full-blown Alzheimers (“I’m in front of the fridge so often, my mind is filled with doubt / Have I put food away? Or have I come to take some out?”)

She sent jokes, wish-you-wells, and greeting cards containing “a little something” to put in my purse, “from Grandma and Grandpa.” Myself now a busy, strapped adult, I wonder how she found the time—and the coin.
But I stumbled upon something even more valuable than all the twenties, fifties or hundred dollar bills she could have ever sent.

On a lone piece of stationery, are words of wisdom (sans their respected authors) she gathered and compiled for her granddaughter (who, incidentally, was suffering from quite the case of teenage heartbreak). These days, having been rocked by quite the tumultuous year, these thoughts are more poignant than ever.

Here, “From the Desk of Colleen Patricia Rovig,” are her words to live by.

1 – One is not born a woman, one becomes one.

2 – Look twice before you leap.

3 – You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.

4 – The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.

5 – If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.

6 – That is the best—to laugh with someone because you both think the same things are funny.

7 – We can only learn to love by loving.

8 – Love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognize and protect and comfort each other.

9 – You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.

10 – Light tomorrow with today.

11 – We can do no great things—only small things with great love.

12 – To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.

13 – Age is something that doesn’t matter—unless you are a cheese.

14 – If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends—you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it—that’s the time to hold your tongue.

15 – Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

16 – If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.

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