My grandmother who I called Oma passed away this month at age 95. Her inspiration helped me develop into a business woman, an avid traveler and an entrepreneur. She once got a prestigious award in her hometown, St. Louis for "Creative Entrepreneurship" for the number of non-profits she developed and ran. She wanted her eulogy to read that she was still working on many projects.
It was her passion for design, product development and business always benefiting social causes, that I so admired. As a child, I remember visiting her unique shop called "Beautiful Things", and one summer I worked for her at The Butterfly House in Faust Park, MO, which she created, and she later merged it with the Missouri Botanical Garden. When I was at L'Oreal and she was in her 80s, I wanted desperately to hire Oma as my intern. I thought we could really create a brand together - and would have fun working side by side.
She launched a blog at age 93 called The Savvy Sage. Yes, at 93 years old, here is what she wrote:
The exhilarating sights and sounds I inhaled over the years have inspired me to craft original concepts for the projects I tackle. Travel also educated me. It taught me patience, made me always curious and gives me perspective. The places I've been and the people I've met are not memories. They are the lessons that shaped the woman I am now.
Today I am both older and wiser than the 18-year-old who began the journey. But I still care about living the stylish life, enjoying intellectual pursuits and immersing myself in worthy causes. In fact, my personal mantra is that we must all reinvent our lives now and then to stay relevant---as the world around us changes, and we ourselves change.
Life's a trip. Join me on the journey.
I had the opportunity to speak to her a few weeks before she passed away. She was sitting with my 104-year-old grandfather. They were married for 75 years and spent very few nights apart. At 19 years old, she met my grandfather because she happened to be wearing a necklace with ancient coins on it. My grandfather, who was a numismatistic scholar, immediately pursued her, and she was smitten by his intellect.
75 years later, still in love and completely emotionally dependent on each other, she quickly responded to my question about what her advice was about relationships.
Oma immediately replied, "My husband, who you call Opa, was always interested in what I was doing."
Opa nodded. "And we loved to travel together."
And when asked what advice she had for her grandchildren?
Have fun every minute.
Keep your good partners.
Just Do It.
And these are principles I will continue to live by.