20 Years Later, Her Love, Wisdom, and Example Inspire an Eternal Summer

2 min read

“Treat yourself the way she would have treated you—with love, compassion, and kindness." 

This has been my mantra for a while. 

It’s been 20 years today since my Grandma died and a day does not go by that I don’t think of her, and feel the love she had given me—unconditionally and wholly. A tear comes down occasionally, but in time it’s grown from a deep drop of sadness to a sea of gladness for having had her to show me that I am lovable and loved, no matter what.

In the world of change and pressure that constantly reminds us of our inadequacies and tries to make us into something we are not, this is a hard lesson to learn for most of us; nonetheless, it’s the most important one.

This morning, I was remembering some of the ways she’d speak to me:

"May God protect you."

"Always be kind to everyone."

“Give, you’ll have more.”

Another constant expression stood out:

She’d say, “Dome moj (moy), kućo moja (moya)” - which means, "my home”. She took pride in her home and found it in each of us—remarkably, in everyone she’d met.

What I realized this morning is that she felt that home within herself, carried it everywhere with her, and then found it in others, too. Her life was full of turmoil—both of her parents died before she turned 12, she lost a 27-year-old son and an infant daughter, and lived through two wars—yet, she transmuted that pain into softness, and found a home—the empathy, the warmth, the welcome, the kindness, and the nourishment.

She was an epitome of La Dolce Vita — a sweet life.

20 years after her passing, that 14-year-old boy who’d lost his safe harbor on that rainy April morning and then spent years fighting depression and loneliness, is without a doubt feeling that home within — her greatest gift.

So, I want you to know you can find and build that home within you, too.

  • You can start by treating yourself with love, compassion, and kindness.

  • Envelop yourself with gentleness, understanding, patience, and gratitude. You’ve been through a lot (just in the last year!)

  • Don’t judge your experiences—you can’t learn to love yourself by hating what brought you here. Instead, use them as teachers and guides.

  • Take the time to find your true self and live it out. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Focus on what brings you joy. Ignore the naysayers. Trust in the process, God, the Universe — and your own fundamental goodness.

It won’t happen overnight, but in the depths of that dark winter, you will eventually find within you an eternal summer.

Lastly -- I hope you have a person like my grandma in your own life — to look up to, to inspire you, to feel their unconditional love, to bring a smile to your face when you think of them.

But if not — you can adopt her. She won’t mind.

I know, with 100% certainty, she’d call you “dome moj” too.