The Rozelle Family - Earl (Butch) Rozelle,  Earl Rozelle (Poppy), Mary Rozelle (Nanny), Jack Rozelle and Karen Rozelle Newton. This was the last picture taken of them all together.
The Rozelle Family - Earl (Butch) Rozelle, Earl Rozelle (Poppy), Mary Rozelle (Nanny), Jack Rozelle and Karen Rozelle Newton. This was the last picture taken of them all together.

Thanks to my mother’s decision to bring me into the world at the ripe age of 18, I was lucky enough to have 17 wonderful years with my great-grandparents. I can remember spending most weekends at their house, playing with my great-grandfather out in the courtyard of their apartment complex. It was a small green patch but it was enough to have countless adventures in. When I was called back to the house, I spent time sitting with Nanny to watch The Rifleman or make some sort of craft. On Saturdays, we would bake. On Thursdays, I’d wear Nanny’s red cardigan and we’d make the 15 mile per hour trip down to the grocery store. After school, Poppy would help me do my homework – or at least pretend he knew what I was working on. Memories like these are some of the most special moments in my life. I remember my great-grandparents each and every day and I’m thankful for all of the things they’ve taught me. Here are just a few:

1.Family first.

My great-grandparents were so special. They would have given you anything they could to make you feel at home. However, when it came to accepting gifts, they wanted only to have time with those they loved. To them, family was the most important thing in life. Because I grew up in their love, I now treasure my family more than ever.

2. Be humble.

For how much my Nanny and Poppy may have given me praise, I knew that behind it all, they were teaching me to be humble. I can’t even begin to describe how they taught this. All I know is that they were two of the most humble people I’ve ever met.

3. Show compassion.

Whether it was a little bird or a whiny kid with a scraped knee, my great-grandparents showed compassion and understanding. They indulged my attempts to save animals I found. They picked me up and dusted me off when I fell down. They listened to my thoughts and feelings. They softened any blow.

4. Share your feelings.

When my Nanny was sad or upset, she told me. When my Poppy felt nostalgic, he shared his memories. Both my great-grandparents were open and honest when it came to thoughts and feelings.  This honesty encourages only the deepest of love and understanding.

5. Love deeply.

Love was inherent in every fiber of their beings. It was shown everyday. It was present in every action. It was behind every laugh, smile, hug, kiss, or scolding. They loved the way that people are meant to love. They were loved in all the best ways people are meant to be loved.

6. Don’t be wasteful.

Nanny and Poppy grew up during the Depression. They knew what it was like to have and to have not. They knew what it meant to be fortunate. They never wasted. They always saved. These are two principles that I keep with me always.

7. Surround yourself with good people.

My great-grandmother loved to tell me  about when she was young, how her father had told her, “Show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are.” I realize now more than ever that I am shaped by the company I keep. I stopped choosing people who made me feel anything less than myself. I surrounded myself with friends and family I loved and wanted to share the best moments of life with.

8. Open your home.

For my great-grandmother, it was most important to make sure that her company was well-fed and comfortable. Now, I love to play hostess. I love baking and cooking and sharing good conversation with people I invite into my home.

9. There’s always room for cookies.

Nanny was a great baker. I will always miss the taste of her chocolate chip cookies. No one makes them like she did.

10. It’s your day.

My family always jokes about this because whenever I would misbehave or mouth off, my great-grandparents always replied, “It’s her day.” Well, while I may have gotten away with bloody murder, this phrase did teach me something about achieving my goals. I can always take advantage of the time I have at hand. I can do anything and be anything I choose. I can just be Mandy and that’s okay. It’s my day.

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