by Rachel Schindler
Twenty years ago, my mother, brother, sister and I moved to South Florida. It was not an easy time but my grandmother – just two years after losing her beloved husband, Abe — welcomed us into her home.
Although I was just five at the time we traveled from New York to Florida, I’ll never forget the early lessons my grandmother taught me about the meaning of family. For the next 20 years, I learned much through the love, devotion and commitment that seemed to come natural to her.
“All you have is family, all we have is one another,” Lynn often said, along with endless dinner, shopping and concert invitations urging us to spend time together.
When I tell my own children about her one day, I’m sure the first thing I’ll talk about is how devoted she was to her family.
I’ve often wondered how others make it through the challenges of life without family they can count on, what it would have been like for my mother, brother, sister and me if we couldn’t have lived with Grandma Lynn when we arrived in Florida, if she hadn’t been there for my aunts and uncle, or stayed a constant friend to her nine grandchildren until the very last moments of her life.
Over the years, I’ve met many people who didn’t have the opportunities we’ve had and when I learn more, I realize it’s because they didn’t have a Grandma Lynn in their lives.
Grandma Lynn also taught our family much about the joy of life, both through its adventures and ironies. She loved to laugh. Not just any laugh, but contagious laughter that I suspect I’ll always remember when I think of her.
And above all else, she taught us about the importance of talking to each other, staying connected in each other’s lives despite physical distance and through differences too. No matter what the disagreements, she always came back to the value that was the very foundation of her life. For her, “all you have is family,” weren’t merely words, it was her way of life.
I’m forever grateful that we’ll never have to imagine what life would have been like for any of us without Grandma Lynn. Her life was a lasting gift and blessing to all of us, leaving us with a lifetime of memories of generosity, kindness to strangers, friends and family alike, love for animals, and the voice that always urged closeness, connection, understanding, and love.
Rachel Schindler, a member of PAIRS Foundation’s research and grant support team, earned her BA in Psychology and Sociology. She is workin