I was going through some old Bibles of my mother’s this morning and I found a Bible that was given to her by her mother, Bessie Whitley Balkum. I thumbed through it, looking for notations in the margin and small things that may have been inserted between the pages.
I found a folded, typed page titled “A Message to My Children”. It was signed “Written by and lovingly dedicated to my children by Bessie Delphia Helen Griffin Whitley Balkum”. The text of the “Message” contained some rules for living that she applied to her life and that she wanted her children to incorporate into theirs.
I share the thoughts of my wonderful grandmother now:
“ Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.”
“Make your friends see that there is something in them.”
“Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.”
“Think only the best.”
“Be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.”
“Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to a greater achievement of the future.”
“Wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.”
“Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.”
“Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”
“Think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world not in loud words but in great deeds.”
“Live in faith that the world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
My grandmother raised 13 children. Her husband died before the last one was born. She did not have an easy life. She never had much money or material things. But she never let her circumstances dictate how she treated others or how she thought of herself. Visiting her, I was always sure of two things: that she loved me and that she was happy. And now I know why. I hope that I can pass these things on to my children.