Growing up my Grandmother was always the sweet old lady that lived in the tough part of Salt Lake City, collected yogurt cups, and was ferociously devoted to her religion. When I was about 6 she decided to serve her church as a missionary. This meant that she would go around attempting to bring people to her church. She was sent to Virginia by her church. One thing I remember is going to family events and listening to my aunts and uncles talk and laugh about the stories she sent from Virginia. They would tell me about this woman that my Grandma was sharing an apartment with (as a missionary of her church you were paired up with a member of the same sex for the duration) and how she just couldn’t get along with her. I remember them laughing about how cantankerous this woman made my Grandma. These stories were repeated even after my Grandma passed away. A Decade later, I now understand how these stories of my odd couple like grandma’s relationship with her missionary companion helped impart familial values.
Reflecting on it more, I can see that these stories were a way to communicate the importance of individuality, venting, and religious devotion. As I performed the same service, as a missionary for the same church, like my Grandma once did, I see how the values have transferred to me. At times I was paired up with people who had difficult personalities. Then I remembered laughing at my crazy grandmother and her missionary friend. She was willing to put up with an “insufferable” woman just to do what she felt her religion required of her. That value transferred to me and I told myself I was willing to as well. Even now, I look at my extended family now I can see that value currently reflected in the way they live. I would write home about how I couldn’t stand the person I was living with. I knew it was okay to vent to my parents because they were probably at home laughing about how I couldn’t get along with my friend and about what fights we had that week, just like they laughed at Grandmother back then. Most importantly I remembered that while my aunts and uncles did laugh at my Grandma for her quirkiness, it was a loving thing and not out of humiliation. From their way of communicating these incidents I was able to understand that it was OK to be me. They would love me even if I was quirky.