My oma survived unimaginable tragedy. She taught me ‘When the forest is too big, focus on the trees’

In this series, Guardian writers share the best advice they’ ve ever received and how it has affected their lives since

My oma was not a woman prone to emotional outbursts. Good news. Bad news. It was all handled the same.

A swig of brandy from a water glass (I never saw her pour it, it just seem to appear as if she had willed it into existence) and a cigarette (Kent, always Kent). With the brandy in one hand, her cigarette in the other, my oma received all news. The fall of the USSR. The death of loved ones. Invitations to hang out with her Lithuanian ladies. Leaks in the roof and her grandchildren’s school results.

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