Patsy’s List for Living: What I’d Tell My Grandchildren

Patsy, 90, offers advice to her grandchildren (and young people of all ages). Some of the advice she gives is unexpected, and it shows us how life experiences from 70 years ago can lead to highly relevant lessons for living.

I’d like my 16 grandchildren to learn a few of my favorite things that helped me live a good life. Not necessarily in order of importance, these include:

Be moderate in your eating and drinking habits. Eat everything in moderation and step on a scale daily to ensure you are maintaining your ideal weight. Drink the drinks you like, but use moderation in carbonated drinks, especially cola drinks that harm your teeth. As a teacher, I often placed a child’s first tooth in a glass of cola to show it disappeared in about a week.

Engage in after school activities from the time you enter school through high school. Participate daily in whatever you enjoy – sports, dance, music, art, drama, science, writing, etc. These activities will not only keep you busy but help you get into college.

When you get advice from a smart source, take it. In the long run it could help you. During WWII, my college advisor said, “Someday, Patsy, you may have to work.” I took his suggestion and earned a Masters in Education and Government and so became qualified to teach in any school in the country. Eighteen years later as the single mother of six, I was able to get the “perfect single parent job” – a teacher with the same schedule as my children.

When opportunity knocks, go for it – even if it necessitates moving. As a teacher I moved from St. Petersburg, FL to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. to Los Angeles, CA, to Santa Clara, CA.

Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for on the spot. Use a credit card and pay it off at the end of each month. Never waste money on interest. Except for my house, I buy everything for cash, including my car.

Start your children with savings accounts when they receive their first allowance or gift of money. Encourage them to save all or part of all the money they receive or earn and amaze them with compound interest. My parents encouraged me to do this so on my 16th birthday I was able to buy a $1600 car (a new Buick in 1937) for cash. And it all started with 5 cents per week in a grammar school savings program.

Teach your children the sounds of the letters of the alphabet before they go to school. They will then be able to sound out most of the words in the English language. They can succeed as early as two or three years of age. Knowing how to read enables you to learn everything else. I taught Remedial Reading this way for 20 years and every one of my students learned to read.

I’m sure I will think of other things I have learned in attaining my good life. But these came to mind immediately. I note that most are not generally taught today. I hope that some of the methods I used in achieving a good life will help others do the same.

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