Nanny Moore was already advanced in years when I asked her a question.

It was a difficult question to ask, mainly because by asking such a question I was implying that her answer should be passed on, which in turn implies that she herself would soon… pass on. So it was a difficult thing for me to say. For Nan, though, it wasn’t a difficult question to answer.

To preface the question I must add that the question didn’t come totally out of the blue. There had been previous, as they say. Whenever I’d visit Nan, during her final few years, I would ask her about her life. There was so much I didn’t know. I knew that this remarkable woman’s years were saturated with experience, and memories of cherished family moments that I was unaware of. I knew she was getting old, and that perhaps her time was approaching the end, and I felt it important that I knew about her life, and that of my Granddad, too. So I became inquisitive, and questions followed.

The question to my Nan was this: “Throughout all your years of life and experiences, if you could give to the world just one single piece of advice, what would it be?”

With just a few seconds of thought Nan replied with: “Be kind to everyone.”

There was silence. At first, I admit, I was underwhelmed.

“Be kind to everyone? What about the nasty ones?” I said.

“Especially the nasty ones,” she said. “They need it even more.”

At first, Nan’s little platitude seemed trivial. It wasn’t the Earth shattering piece of ‘Nan’s knowledge’ I’d been expecting. But I listened and digested it – knowing I would come back to it later. Even then, I think, I instinctively knew there was some greater truth to her words, something that I’d just have to work out for myself.

Sadly, within a year of that moment, Nan’s health took a turn for the worse, and she died on 21st May 2010. Although Nan was elderly and had her share of health problems it was still a shockingly sudden event.

At her funeral, sat there enjoying all the fond memories and the beautiful and pertinent words that were spoken by the eulogisers, her advice floated back to me.

“Be kind to everyone.”

I could almost hear her.

She was right. I now know that her words amount to the most poignant and beautiful piece of advice I have ever heard.

Simple, yes. But so true.

Being kind to everyone works on so many levels. For you and the person to whom your kindness is proffered. It’s a win-win scenario. The truth is that every day of our lives is a battle. Even the good times come with the knowledge that you are ageing, that our days are running out, that we are fighting a losing battle with time. Additionally, we fight daily with the ordinary travails of existence.

By being kind to a person you are giving them a break. You are giving yourself a break, too. Who needs another skirmish along life’s path? Existence is hard enough as it is, without others adding to it. So, be kind, don’t add to people’s woes. It will help them and it will help you even more. Nan knew this.

That’s not to say that my Nan was advocating submissiveness. Not at all. Throughout her life Nan fought hard for her own existence, her family, and her sense of right and wrong. Sometimes you have no choice but to fight.

And I’m thinking that, perhaps, because of all Nan’s years of fighting adversity, she learned the value of kindness. Perhaps she learned that kindness is the better way, the gentler path, the more effective method for traversing life’s ups and downs. She went through a hell of a lot, did my Nan. A hell of a lot. It is a testament to her, that despite all life threw at her, she should pass on to her eldest grandson the most gentle and poignant words.

Be kind to everyone.

I like to call this one powerful sentence ‘Nanny Moore’s Law’*. If only more of us adhered to it.

Recently, I chanced to open a copy of Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year and read the epigraph, attributed to the great Greek philosopher Plato.

“Be kind, for everybody you meet is fighting a hard battle”

My Dear Nan, you were a legend akin to Plato. We all love and miss you xx

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* Not to be confused with the more widely known Moore’s Law

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