I’ve been called a social butterfly on numerous occasions. And I suppose that’s somewhat true. I do love making new friends and spending time with diverse groups of people. People are fascinating. (well… some people anyway).
This wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I wasn’t particularly sociable at all. Not that I was crusty or anything, I was just shy. I didn’t make friends easily.
And then, slowly, my grandmother happened. And I emerged from my cocoon.
When I was 18, I moved to Ottawa to go to university. I lived off campus, with my Nana. While she was always the closest of my four grandparents, living with her for seven years left us with a really close bond…one we still share today.
We spent a lot of time together – eating meals together, at home or in restaurants. We would go to SuperEx together. We played cards and watched TV. Chatted in the evenings after I was done my schoolwork. Maybe it’s not the wildest life for a university undergrad, but it suited me, and we’ve been close friends ever since. So whatever else came of it, it was worth it for that reason alone.
But living off campus meant I really didn’t develop many friends. I still have absolutely no university friends in my circle… even on Facebook. I was still a shy boy. But my Nana set an awesome example. It seemed that everywhere we went together – a restaurant, a mall, a fair – Nana would be swarmed by people she knew; friends who just wanted to chat.
Every time it happened, it left an impression on me. And it made me think about how few friends I had. This next part is kind of morbid, but it occurred to me that, had I died then and there, I’d have very few people aside from family that would care.
I didn’t want that. I wanted to be more like my Nana. I wanted to go places and run into friends everywhere. That seemed a much more fun way to live life. And slowly, over the next few years, I made a conscious effort to get to know more people. I grew my circles of friends.
And here I am, a fully formed socialite.
I credit my grandmother with that change. It’s one of the best things that ever happened to me (or that I made happen in my life). And if you’re reading this now and you’re a friend of mine, you have her to thank for our friendship too – assuming, of course, that you’re as happy to be my friend as I am to be yours!
Nana turned 95 today. I’ve been blessed to know her for 42 of those years. Happy birthday, Nana! So happy you’re still nearby and making my life brighter. You’re in my thoughts every day.