June 18, 2013

What My Grandmother Taught Me about Love. ~ Maureen Zdanis

I was deeply affected by my grandmother who had enough love and nurturance to not only cherish her five children, but to also raise her grandchildren.

This woman probably mothered more people during her 100 years of life than I will ever know.

Annie or Little Miss Muffett, as one of her two sons whom she outlived called her, died one year ago.

I was there the day she passed away and I told her a story while she was on her deathbed that I believe helped her release. The story was of my helping to lead a lost girl in Philadelphia to her father’s house.

I was waiting on Girard Avenue and Poplar for a friend to pick me up on our way to a Phillies game. A little girl, about eight years old, was crossing the street by herself and approached me. She asked if I knew where the CVS was.  I told her there were two nearby, and then I saw her anxiety heighten. I asked if she was lost and she broke down and said yes.

I so badly wanted to comfort this child and take her in, but I knew that she would be wary of a stranger. I told her I could help her—I could tell a police officer or help her get there, I thought of driving her, following her in my car, taking the trolley with her—and as I explained all of the options, I also thought what I would feel like in her shoes.

She didn’t speak much but to answer yes and no questions. She fervently shook her head “no” when I asked if she wanted me to tell a police officer. She didn’t know her parents’ phone numbers or addresses.

She finally found her strength to say,“I want you to walk with me.”

I knew this would take a long time and we would be late for the game, but I felt compelled to follow her. I walked with her for over a mile. At each nearing intersection she would perk up with hopes of seeing something familiar, but grow despondent when she didn’t recognize anything. I followed her instincts as she turned right and walked through a neighborhood.  

Finally, she pointed and started running towards a house. I watched her climb up the stairs and a woman opened the door to let her in.

I decided that I had trusted her instincts the whole time and now would be the same. I believe she was where she was supposed to be.

I feel that the beauty of this story is that I fully listened to the needs and desires of this child. She trusted me enough to accept my help and I believe it is because I let her make decisions and lead the way. I respected her as a person and gained her trust.

The meaning of this story, by telling it to my grandmother on her deathbed, was to symbolize how I would be okay after she left.

I talked her through the story, as I symbolically accompanied my grandmother towards her final home.

A few hours later, she drew her last breaths. 

As I drove home from the shore towards Philadelphia, the sky opened up majestically and a rainbow formed.

We all have a child inside of us; she has not grown up, but still has more wisdom than our older selves. She is to be honored and respected—her instincts are more in touch than our older tethered selves.

She knows the way and we must follow.



Maureen Zdanis is a school psychologist/psychotherapist/teacher who works with emotionally disturbed students from first grade through high school in Philadelphia.  She also co-facilitates therapy groups for adults in her spare time as well as practicing yoga, dance and soccer.  Always on a quest for connection and growth, she has a private practice for adults and children from under-mothered backgrounds.  Connect with Maureen on her website.



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Assist Ed: Olivia Gray/Ed: Bryonie Wise


{Photo: via Vivian on Pinterest}

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