If you had asked Granny what she was scared of, she would have laughed right in your face.
“Not much,” she would reply.
“Aren’t you scared of something happening?” I asked.
Her answer was a question. “What’s gonna happen?”
“I don’t know.”
I didn’t know. But I did know that for the most part, I was scared of just about everything as a child, and even have moments as an adult where fear sometimes plays a big part in my decision making process.
Comedian John Mulaney joked he was disappointed quicksand wasn’t as big of a concern as cartoons led us to believe, and I felt that in my soul. Especially when Granny told me her dad lost a mule in some quicksand once.
She may have been exaggerating about that.
For someone who wasn’t scared of anything, she made sure to instill a healthy respect for it in me, starting with that quicksand.
She told me to never open the door for strangers, even if they said they were family or had something for one of my family members.
There was really no fear in that happening; I wasn’t ever home alone and Granny loved telling everyone I wasn’t a ‘latch key kid’ since that was the stuff of afterschool specials induced nightmares.
“Fear is a healthy emotion,” she’d remind me. By definition, she meant it was wise to fear her and heed her warnings, or else be met with dire consequences.
“Your fear is letting you know something is amiss,” Mama would caution. “You need to listen to it.”
So I was taught, to a large degree, that fear was a common emotion to encounter, and may even be my friend at times.
I asked Granny once what was the scariest thing she lived through.
She replied solemnly it was when my uncle Bobby was in Vietnam.
“How did you deal with that?” I asked.
“I prayed. Every day,” she said. “I knew he was going to come home. I prayed.”
Maybe it was her solid foundation in her faith that helped her tackle what seemed to be insurmountable fears.
I know there has been a time or two – or maybe even three – where my fears or doubts were stronger than my faith, and I would say so.
She’d be quick to tell me how wrong that was and how I needed to change my attitude.
“Then why does it feel like everything is going wrong, no matter what I do?” I cried.
The old gal took a deep breath and looked at me.
“You think I ain’t had times when things went wrong? I have. But let me tell you something, Lil ‘Un, sitting there and having a pity party for yourself doesn’t do you a bit of good.”
“Then what do you propose I do?” I asked. “I don’t see any option here.”
“There’s always an option,” she stated matter-of-factly. “For one, you can just sit still and let whatever it is work itself out. A lot of things will do just that if you leave ‘em alone. Just don’t make a decision out of fear. It will always lead you astray.”
“Sometimes it feels like I have no choice but to do that,” I said. And it did – still does at times.
There are times that I panic and in a moment of fear, want to make a hasty decision. Being scared, it seems, can be a powerful motivator.
“Just know any choice you make out of fear is never going to lead to happiness,” Granny said. “It will only lead to more sorrow and heartache, because you jumped too soon to see all the possible outcomes.”
For someone who never graduated high school, she had a depth of wisdom.
I thought of all the moments, the decisions she probably had to make that were fraught with fear.
If Granny was ever scared, she didn’t show it.
When she was faced with something that would have knocked the wind out of anyone else, she just charged ahead. She may consult with my grandfather first, and after he developed Alzhiemer’s, she would go to her brother, Almand, for wisdom.
It wasn’t to help her feel better; it was probably for someone to tell her not to do something she shouldn’t.
But, the important thing was, Granny didn’t let her fear dictate the steps she took in her life.
I’ve thought about her gumption and her faith recently, especially when some troubling moments have crossed my path.
Those moments have been fraught with anxiety, doubt, and great fear. Will I make the right choice? Am I doing the right thing? What should I do?
I realized, after much thought, that I was trying to make a decision out of fear.
Something the Redhead Prime would never do.
I took a step back and looked at my options.
Her words to sometimes sit back and let situations work themself out on their own resonated in my heart.
“When you do that, you give yourself time to let the dust settle, so you can see what you really need to do,” she had said. “It gives you time to make your own plan.”
Granny never made a hasty decision, and in taking her advice, it can give me the opportunity to not only plan my own next steps, but maybe, just maybe, take a leap based in faith and not fear after all.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.