Grandma Leddin

Grandma Pat Leddin with Taylor Leddin circa 1995. 

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in our country, and I’m sure it’s affected your life in some way. It affected mine 10 years ago, when it took my Grandma Leddin’s life.

Whenever I think about having lost her to heart disease, I think about how odd it is in a figurative sense, considering she had the greatest heart of anyone I’ve ever known (trust me, she’s got references.)

In the 17 years I was lucky enough to know her, I never once heard her say anything negative to or about someone. Well, aside from the time she was on medication post-bypass and unwittingly told my dad the sweet potatoes he made for Thanksgiving were “not very good.”

Can you think of a single person who never had a negative thing to say? I’ve been awake for just more than an hour and probably have said about eight negative things.

Grandma, Pat, was so incredibly nice that, on occasion, the niceness would come to be something of a disservice to her. Here is an example we often reminisce about in my family.

After being dropped off at the airport by my grandfather, Grandma was en route to Florida to meet some girlfriends. While waiting at the gate, she got into a conversation with a traveling young couple.

During the conversation, her plane began to board. Being too nice to politely excuse herself, she allowed the couple to continue talking to her — even as her name was being called over the intercom to board the plane.

Long story short, she missed her flight by being too polite. As you might guess, the couple kindly excused themselves from the conversation when it was time to board their flight. After pleading with the gate attendants, getting a “You did what?!” from my Grandpa on the phone and waiting on standby, she eventually made it to Florida.

Pat Leddin was the kind of person who, if you needed something, was there. It didn’t matter if she had to walk through banks of snow, she would be there.

She was a major part of my life, and I think about her every day. I think about how much she would have loved to see her grandkids get married and start to have babies and how she would love to swoon over our accomplishments — regardless of how small they were.

Most of what I think about is how others could stand to be more like her, to not spend energy thinking negatively of others and to be as helpful as possible whenever able.

Going back to small accomplishments, I learned from her the significance of celebrating the little things in life. I never will forget how she pulled me aside as we were leaving Buffalo Wild Wings one afternoon simply to tell me — with 100 percent sincerity — how proud she was of me for trying something new on the menu.

While I would argue this isn’t something worth holding a parade over, it is kind of one of the exciting things of life, right? Trying something new and having new experiences. Even if she was worried about the 100 different ways her children or grandchildren could get injured, she always was supportive of us having new experiences.

A few other lessons she taught me include: you never can take too many photos, always have dessert first and karaoke is always a good idea.

It’s been hard to not have her around, but I can’t take for granted all the good she brought into the world. In this month, and every month, I keep her in my heart.

Taylor Leddin is the Life editor at the Daily Journal and is the editor of Lifestyles of Kankakee County. Her column, “A Taylor Made Life,” publishes every Saturday in the Life section. She can be contacted at 815-937-3369, or via Twitter @leddinlife.