How Baba Freddy’s Advice Changed My Life

Baba Freddy at the Kline Galland Home (I think this was taken when she was 96).
Baba Freddy at the Kline Galland Home (I think this was taken when she was 96).

It was the last time I saw her and I knew she was going to die. I had known it could happen any time, since my great-grandmother, Baba Freddy (as she was affectionately known), was 100 years old; but family legend had it that she would live forever.

When I walked into Baba Freddy’s room, almost three years ago, I saw peace and acceptance in her eyes, as if she had let go of life already. This may not sound strange to you for a woman who is 100, but Baba Freddy was a fighter. She was a stubborn, feisty, no-nonsense woman with a wry sense of humor. In her 90’s she survived a broken hip, pneumonia, and a stroke that left her without feeling in her left hand and arm, and still she fought to live.

She was born in 1911 and died in 2010 and during that visit I felt a sense of urgency and a clawing desperation for her 100 years of wisdom. I just wanted to soak up everything she knew. So I begged her, “What can you tell me? What wisdom can you impart to me?”

She started slowly, “Stay sober,” and then added, “If you find a good man, sleep with him.”

Baba Freddy at the Kline Galland Home (I think this was taken when she was 96).
Baba Freddy at the Kline Galland Home (I think this was taken when she was 96).

But then she got serious and said what she always told me, “What can I say? I have no complaints. I had a good life; I raised beautiful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” Although not a religious woman, she talked to me about the significance of bringing God into my life and that when it comes down to it, family is the most important part of life and what I do to honor, accept, love and cherish them will make all the difference.

But it wasn’t enough. I was still grappling for something that I felt was just within reach. If only I could ask the right question, I could get the answer I was searching for.

After I left that day, I realized that I was desperately trying to get the secret of life. I wanted her to tell me something that would shatter my world and give me all the answers. The answer that would give me the key to every problem I might encounter in my life. But then I realized I already knew the secret of life; I already had the key.

We all do.

We all know that our bodies are vessels and that we need to tend to them to lead a healthy life.

We all know that we need to take time to recharge ourselves in order to give to others.

We all know that family is the most important thing in life and that we need to make peace with them in order to have peace in other relationships.

We all know that laughter reduces stress.

We all know that kindness and compassion bring more light to the world.

We all know communication and empathy are crucial in relationships.

We all know this because we all have a soul that is connected to God’s wisdom.

If we know the answers already, why can’t we live the way we know will bring us the most meaningful and fulfilling life?

It’s because we see ourselves as bodies with souls instead of souls with bodies.

We are disconnected from our true selves:

  • We are disconnected from our true selves and therefore don’t know the power we each have to make a difference in the world. We don’t know our own strengths.
  • Because of that we think we need other people to tell us how capable we are. We go to gurus, counselors, mentors, teachers, the daily horoscope, advice columns, healers, therapists, self-help books, (and the list goes on) to tell us about ourselves. To tell us who we are and what our struggles and our strengths are and to give us permission to be who we  are.
  • But even once we know our power and we know our strengths, we still don’t believe in ourselves. We think, “Who am I to do this?”, or, “Why would anyone listen to me?”

This is why everyone is searching the world for the pearls of wisdom that we already have in our pockets. We know who we are, we know what we need to do, and we often even know how to get there. But we doubt ourselves and we don’t have confidence in our knowledge.

So how do we connect with ourselves and to our innate wisdom?

Here are a few starting points:

  • Write down a list of your strengths and believe them. Don’t hold back because true humility comes from a deep understanding of your strengths and challenges.
  • If it’s difficult for you to come up with your strengths, poll your friends and family members that you trust.
  • Let God in the picture by truly letting go and allowing Him to guide you to the wisdom of your soul.
  • Keep in mind that you are alive right now because God said, “Exist,” because the world is not complete without you.
  • Trust yourself and learn to listen to your own voice, and when you’re truly connected you will be astounded at the clarity you will have.

A friend posted something on Facebook that really sums it up, “Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.”

Thank you Baba Freddy for sharing the simple truths of life with me. I’m glad I don’t have to wait until I’m 100 to discover my soul.

About the Author
Raizel Druxman is a writer and a recent addition to this amazing country we call home. She landed here in January 2013 after a 5-month excursion in Southeast Asia and the Far East and is always seeking new ways to connect to people and encourage Jews of all stripes to love each other. Raised among the mountains, lakes and trees of Seattle, she is now trying to find peace in the alleys of Nachlaot.