Life Lessons From My 96 Year Old Grandma

On Friday, May 22nd, 2020, Frances Mastropolo left us for what, I hope, is an even better life. She was my grandma and she was due to turn 97 in just a few months.

It’s weird to think we won’t be able to talk to her anymore, but we had her in our lives for a long time. She also got to experience 6 grandkids and 19 great grandchildren…and she lived a good and fun life. In fact, she was the one that turned me onto possibly the best summer beer ever, Bud Light Lime. She also may be the only 96 year old that had a shirtless fireman calendar in her kitchen.

The photo above sums up the joy and happiness my grandmother lived with.

I went on a golf trip in January in Orlando, about 90 minutes from where she lived and I’m so happy I made the decision to fly down early, rent a car and go see her…I didn’t know it would be the last time. I almost didn’t visit her though — I was making excuses to myself why it wasn’t possible. I figured I’d just see her later, but sometimes “later” is taken away from us.

Anyway, I’m publishing this article to honor her life…and to share the lessons I’ve learned from having her in my life over the last 41 years. Most of these lessons are also, I think, what helped her live a long, happy and healthy life.

Life Lessons — and in No Particular Order

Keep an active social life with friends and/or family — she was always out and about doing something with someone.

Have a strong reason to live — I assume her reason was her family, especially the 19 great grandchilden.

Have a strong support team around you — my mom and dad — and my uncle, aunt and cousins that lived close by really took care of her.

Be independent as much as possible too — she actually lived on her own into her early 90’s — yes, she had a lot of support around her, but she also made her own decisions and I think this activity kept her mind strong.

Get your Zzzzzz’s — she would usually get 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night.

Laugh, have a sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously — I used to affectionately call her “old bones” and even at the very end when she was dying from surgery complications due to fracturing her hip, she told me “I guess you were right, haha”.

Keep active by walking, biking, whatever — at one point she had this big “old person” tricycle and it was hysterical watching her cruise around.

Play games to have fun and keep your brain stimulated — she played Bingo every week with her friends and she loved Rummikub

Piggybacking on the last point, have you ever played Rummikub? It’s hard. When I saw her in January, we played 3 games of Rummikub and my 96 year old grandmother beat me 2 out of the 3 games. It was embarrassing. And my aunt won the 3rd game.

We will all miss her, but I feel comforted that she lived a long and happy life… she also experienced so much growth in her family with all her great grandchildren, much more than I’m sure she was expecting.

And she left us peacefully, a perfect ending to a great life. RIP grandma, we love you.

Thank you for reading and thank you for giving me a chance to honor her.


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