A Life Well Lived: Lessons from My 97-Year-Old Grandmother

Last week I had the distinct honor of delivering the eulogy at my grandmother Eleanor Proffitt’s Celebration of Life.

She was 97 years old. (Had she lived to 100, I told her I was going to submit her picture to the Today show for the segment when they honor 100-year-olds. Darn it!)

When my mom sent a note to the whole family of Grandma’s kids and grandkids asking who wanted to speak at the funeral, I instinctively raised my hand. I had something to say.

With the launch of my newest creation, the Gutsy Goddess Society, and mentally and physically preparing to travel from Massachusetts to Florida solo with my two young boys (not as hard as I thought it would be – phew!), I had little time to focus on my grandmother’s eulogy.

It was only the night before the funeral, as I went through the albums and stacks of photos of my grandmother that the message I wanted to share became clear. What I saw in those images: 97 years of memories from a woman who knew how to live life.

So what did I share when I walked up to the podium on that hot and sunny September day?

I talked about the values that Grandma instilled in me.

1. Family: Eleanor Proffitt had 4 children (a few more she lost during pregnancy or right after birth), 11 grandkids, 13 great-grandkids. And she had 1 love in her husband Jack (who passed on 26 years ago) that spanned a lifetime. Her greatest legacy is the family she and Grandpa Jack created together. This legacy spans for generations. Amazing to think about.

2. Beauty: Eleanor loved beautiful things. Clothes, hair, nails, shoes. She kept an immaculate home filled with treasures collected on her many exotic travels. And she drove a sparkly Cadillac that she kept in immaculate condition. Her love of the beautiful life was not lost on me. What do you consider beautiful? Bring more of it into your life and watch how your mood improves.

Grandma the Queen. Love her look! How can you embrace your inner queen today?

3. Leadership: Grandma led our family with grace and style. When she organized a family gathering, you better believe you were attending. That’s the way it was. Not only did she lead our family, but she led various civic and ladies groups. I admire her strong vision. Grandma led by example … the strongest leadership style there is.

I ended the eulogy by taking everyone through a guided visualization where we each painted a picture in our minds of how we most want to remember Eleanor Elizabeth Brewer Proffitt. Through breathwork and evocative imagery, I invited each person to bring into their vision the memory they will etch into their minds of Eleanor. Her family and friends shared that this was very powerful as they saw vivid images, many from decades ago. My mom remembered something from her childhood … and then something else from her mom’s final days in the hospital. Wow.

ForĀ  me, I remember my Grandma like this: with a gorgeous yellow, flowy floor-length dress, red nails, perfect hair, and sparkly necklace looking like a queen as she drives her cool Cadillac down the highway of life with its twists and turns, highs and lows. She then shoots me a glance and a smile, then speaks these words:

“Live well, my dear.”

“Thanks, Grandma. You are the original Goddess, never to be replicated, only treasured.”

Let’s heed Grandma’s call, shall we? Live well and prosper. Embrace family (whatever that looks like for you), appreciate beauty and step into your power as a leader who makes an impact with this one life you have.


And to make it easier for you to rock your life, I’d like to invite you join me and fellow adventurers in the Gutsy Goddess Society. I know Grandma is psyched about this new community for women. Have you seen it yet? Check it out here and enjoy.


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