Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Nana’s Rules

One of my favorite TV shows is NCIS, which revolves around a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They conduct criminal investigations involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The leader, Leroy “Jethro” Gibbs, is played by Mark Harmon. (And as noted in my Goodbye Sean Connery post, Mark Harmon now plays a critical role in my wardrobe selection process.  https://jfhandy.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/2012-11-09-goodbye-sean-connery/

Gibbs has “rules” that he enforces with everyone on his team. There are approximately 50 rules (although it appears that number may be changing) and not all the rules have been revealed. They originated from his first wife, Shannon Gibbs, who told him at their first meeting, “Everyone needs a code they can live by.”

Years later, Gibbs began writing his rules down, keeping them in a small tin inside his home. While most of the rules are for everyday use, Gibbs’ rules 40-49 are considered emergency rules, to be invoked only in the direst of circumstances.

What makes it interesting is that he does not always say what the rule is—he may just be walking out the door or be responding to a remark by saying “Rule #12”. Over the years viewers have made attempts to piece the rules together. Some examples of rules: Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife; Rule # 5: You don’t waste good; Rule #11: when the job is done, walk away.  http://ncis.wikia.com/wiki/Leroy_Jethro_Gibbs/Rules

I have been recently a bit more reflective about the legacy of memories and values I want to leave my family and friends and in particular, my son, his wife, and my grandchildren. What memories about me do I want my family to carry in their hearts? Certainly I would want them to remember the cornerstones of this blog………..that I was a woman who faced life with faith…. courage…. and joy.

So, because of those reflections, I have given “Gibbs’ Rules” a great deal of thought. What would I include on a written “Nana’s Rules” list? When the day comes that I am no longer here, I would like to think that my grandchildren could be sitting around a table with their parents or friends and if an issue came up in conversation, they could say “hmmm.. Nana would say Rule #7” and everyone would know what it means. I want them to know what I stood for and the values that formed the core basis for my decisions.

But that means I have to know and identify them.

With that in mind, I have decided to begin the creation of Nana’s Rules. I do not know if I will have 50 rules nor do I know yet how long this will take. Perhaps I will be adding rules over the next 10 years.

But they will be written down and thus, serious thought will have to be given to the rule before it can be added to the list. Certainly some will be faith based; some will be rules about proper behavior; and some will encourage joy.  (Perhaps something such as…… Rule #10: Sometimes you should have a hot fudge sundae for lunch.)

I told Lauren this week that Nana has rules and I wanted her to know Rule #1 which is “Love one another”. We talked about what loving others meant….. as in being kind and sharing and helping others.

I know that her parents are doing a wonderful job showing her love and helping her express love to family and friends. It is very obvious that Lauren loves her younger brother (Sean age 1). She is so very sweet and kind towards him. Their family interactions also demonstrate the love that flows between the four of them.

But I was looking for a way to express this concept on a different scale…. in a way where she and I could share love and kindness to others. I am blessed to work with a fabulous group of individuals at Cobb County government. On my floor there are 70+ staff members from our Information Services department and on the 2nd floor there are 9 staff from the Purchasing department.

This past Tuesday, on our Nana day, Lauren and I went to my office. We brought with us a bag of candy. I told her that I knew there were a lot of people at Nana’s work and that we could show them love and kindness by sharing and that by doing so we would bring a smile to their face and brighten their day.

She is often tentative when first going somewhere with me but after handing out two pieces of candy, her joy became contagious and she would smile and look down the hallway and see someone and say “Nana….. I think they need some.” We went into the various offices and cubicle areas for the two departments…. smiling and handing out “joy” and sharing.

(And may I say publicly “thank you” to all my co-workers that made such a fuss over Lauren and thanked her so very kindly for sharing. By letting us interrupt your day, you made her feel very special. I am grateful for that.)

Once we were done, we headed back to Nana’s house for a swim in the pool and an afternoon of fun. But it was lovely way to spend the morning and a wonderful way to introduce Rule #1.

Truly knowing what I stand for… truly knowing what I believe in…….what are my core values….. in the busyness and craziness of life I think that I sometimes lose sight of that and lose my center…..I think the creation of Nana’s Rules will bring into stronger focus those values…….. and help me define them more clearly…  But even more importantly, by doing so……. perhaps I can help my grandchildren define those values in their lives.

Shannon Gibbs was right when she told Jethro that “Everyone needs a code they can live by.”  It is true……We do. The trick is defining it and then really living it. It is my hope that Nana’s Rules will help me do so…. for me and my grandchildren.