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On the morning of Sept. 10, Regina Ducheneaux passed away and the fog and light were her, letting us know we are going to be okay. (Jenn Zeller/Special to Agweek)

Reflecting on the lessons of Granny

Chapters open and close in life, just like they do in books. One could likely make the argument that each day begins a new chapter in many ways. Early on the morning of Sept. 10, a chapter wrapped up, finishing the book. We lost our family matriarch.

I'm not sure any of us expected it. I'm certain none of us were ready for it, and I know there aren't enough or the right words to capture what that woman meant to this family, her many friends and those who knew her. None of us are ever ready when death comes knocking.

We're starting a new book now — one that we will write without her love, guidance, humor and wit. We'll be going through life, holding onto the memories of laughter, and learning. We'll draw on her wisdom, asking ourselves, "What would Granny do?"

I'll tell you what she'd do — she'd love you unconditionally (friend or acquaintance), let no one leave her home hungry, and always provide a safe, welcoming environment.

No circumstance was ever an inconvenience to her. She rolled amidst the punches of life with the strength of the tempered steel and the flexibility of baling twine. If the world operated like Regina Ducheneaux, the world would be so full of love and happiness we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves.

Never one to say an unkind word about anyone, she set a good example of how to be above the fray. That's evidenced in her offspring, who are the kindest, most giving, generous souls on the planet. When people come to the ranch to visit, they may come as strangers but I promise, they'll leave as family. No one has ever felt unwelcome here. No one.

She was free of judgement for whatever choice you may make — good, bad or indifferent, and was always there to help you pick up the pieces if you got in your own way. Her strength and grace are unmatched, but you'll see it in her daughters and granddaughters. As their books are written and they garner wisdom, they'll fall lockstep in her path. Her sons and grandsons are witty, strong and giving — they come by that honestly. Apple, meet tree.

The most important thing I've learned from her and her family is that we should be grateful for each day we wake up and see the sunrise.

We should spend those days doing something that makes us happy and fulfills us — like she did. She raised seven children and nurtured them into solid, giving people we should all hope to be.

We shouldn't spend our time on this earth complaining or being sucked into negativity and drama.

We never know how many days we are granted on this planet, so it's good to make the absolute best of each day we are given by the Creator. If you spend your time committed to drama or negativity, that's what you'll get out of life. If you spend it on the good, well, just trust me when I tell you, you won't regret that. She didn't.

I hope my book reflects what Regina taught me in the decade I was blessed to spend with her. I'll do my best to write that into my own story.