THE BLOG
08/26/2013 09:45 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2013

A Timeless Measure of Success

2013-08-24-Screenshot20130823at6.28.13PM.pngShe called us just before the holidays and said she wouldn't be home for Christmas. Some of the family members were openly amazed she'd "do that" to the family. What was she thinking? Certainly she knew better than anyone that the holidays were a time for family and she should be home?

Her decision to "diss" the family for the holidays evoked feelings amongst family members ranging from support for her decision to stay where she was to phone calls and written letters expressing anger and amazement at her lack of responsible behavior. We couldn't do that growing up; just do whatever we wanted to do with little regard for what we'd been taught. She'd had the same teachings we'd had. She knew them better than we did. Being one of the older ones in the family, she had taught us these things: what was right and wrong, ladylike, gentlemanly, proper and acceptable.

We should have seen this coming. She had displayed a pattern for this. She had been a strong supporter of conservative values when younger; she stayed at home and helped raise the family after she finished school. She was strong willed and clear minded and she behaved as a young woman should. And then, she felt the call to return to school and nearly everything was turned upside down. She expanded her views, she opened her mind, she traveled the world and... OMG, she aligned with more liberal views. There she went again. Didn't she know better? Didn't she know we younger family members were just getting comfortable with what we'd been taught? Didn't she know her role of compass and navigator was shaping our destinies and lives? She knew better than anyone the trappings of responsibility and the valor in consistency.

So, the holidays came and went without her. Four years later, a disgruntled family member complained, "She's still doing whatever she damn well pleases."

Looking back, after a full life, she's now experiencing what she taught. Years later she's experiencing her family who now feel they are the ones who must continue the responsible behavior training. She is experiencing just how well she trained the ones now doing the training. She shakes her head in amazement and wonders, "Can't they just let me live my life? When do they know it's not their business? I know what I'm doing, can't they just support me?"

Whether you're 10, 21, 45, or 71, there are questions that are timeless and shape every generation's success in living life. When do we live our own lives and let others do the same? When do we trust them, and ourselves, knowing that what is best for them and us might vary? When can we support them, and ourselves, in what they and we're doing? When?

She called home before the holidays and said she wouldn't be home for Christmas. Some of the family members were amazed she'd "do that" to the family. Didn't she know better? Everyone knew better than anyone the holidays were a time for family and that she should be home.

At her age she should know better - after all, she's only 92.