Be Positive, Be Resilient

Tips and Tricks from the World’s Best Grandma

 
 
Resilience
 
 
 

Ninety-six-year-old Nani ji is a jetsetter. A true globetrotter.

She’s the quintessential snowbird who travels southward to warmer climates when the winter hits. However, instead of going to Florida, she has always made her annual winter migration to her pindh in Punjab.

Family is important to Nani ji. And since she’s whip-smart and has an astute understanding of how to make the most out of every opportunity, she always stops in Hong Kong en route to Punjab in order to spend a few weeks visiting family who live there.

Up until last year, that is, when a stroke put a damper on her travel plans.

Nani ji is resilient! She has the willpower to stop a pack of horses. But she’s human. Superhuman in many respects, but still human.

Nani ji’s journey to recovery has been incredible to see. Given her age and the severity of her stroke, it’s impressive that she has been able to progress so quickly. Nani ji, however, seems nonplussed by it all. For her, it wasn’t a matter of if she would get better, but when.

So how did she do it? Here are three nuggets of wisdom that she taught us along the way:

1. Ask for what you need.

Nani ji has never been afraid to tell us what she wants. This was no different once she got her bearings in the hospital post-stroke. She only speaks Punjabi. Yes, she’s traveled across the world, usually all by herself, navigating and mitigating the language barriers. So when the hospital clinicians started speaking only to her daughters and granddaughters, bypassing her entirely, she let everyone know that she would speak for herself and she would be heard. An interpreter was always present afterwards!

2. Don’t be afraid to take time to mull things over.

Sometimes decisions, especially medical ones, need to be made quickly. But if you’re a competent and capable adult, understanding your condition and the potential next steps is of the utmost importance. Take the time you need to understand the situation. Confer with your family if you need to, and then come to your decision.

Nani ji’s rehabilitation goal was an ambitious one. She wanted to be able to walk again, completely unaided. Initially the clinicians were taking her through exercises that would help get some movement back in her limbs. They told her to manage her expectations and not to push too hard. She took time to think, realized she ultimately wanted to be capable of more, and told them so.

3. Being positive and setting goals have a huge impact.

The emotional ups and downs of life are normal and inevitable; they’re something we all go through. But when these are coupled with a chronic or debilitating condition you didn’t initially plan for, it can be difficult to see how you can get back “up.” If you find yourself in a situation like this, it’s important to keep a positive attitude and to work toward specific goals.

Nani ji was excited last summer because two of her grandchildren (she won’t even deny that these two are her favorites!) were newly engaged. This time around, her India trip would include loads of shopping. Then she had her stroke and these plans went poof!

At first she was frustrated and sad. She came to realize, however, that by not going to India she’d be closer to all the hustle and bustle of planning the actual weddings! She set a goal to be able to dance at both weddings. This made her even more determined and diligent with her exercises and check-ups.

The first wedding happened last May, and she danced up a storm!

 

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