Early Saturday morning, I received a call from my mother, letting me know that my grandmother had passed away. As quickly as possible, I hustled into the car and drove immediately over to the nursing home.
While I don’t plan to review the complete details of that day, preferring to keep those private at the moment, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to properly honor this incredible woman – how to actually grieve my incredible grandmother, while still positively honoring her life. With that in mind, I feel compelled to share in the way that has always helped me in times of grief – the written word.
With that in mind, below is in remembrance to my loving and wonderful grandmother.
From when I was very young, I have memories of regularly being with my grandmother and grandfather at their home. Playing dress up and pretend in the boxes of costumes they collected over the years, running around the big tree in their backyard, and trying to fall asleep on the couch while the large, wooden grandfather clock kept it’s steady tik-tok going through the night when they would babysit me at their house overnight.
I didn’t know then what I know now – how much those seemingly tiny moments were laying the foundation for such a incredibly strong family unit. Under my grandmother’s watchful eye, she has kept us in touch with cousins, second cousins, great aunts and uncles, and extended family to the point that many of us still see each other regularly today.
Though, perhaps even more important to me, is that she taught me acceptance.
My grandmother was 93 fantastic years old when she passed, but down to the last moment that I saw her, less than two weeks prior to her passing, she displayed a kindness and gentleness more than anyone I’ve ever known.
Through all of our many generations of family, she always accepted us for our choices, never questioning them when she didn’t agree, always welcomed us with open arms, and was there for us with a hug when life hurt. She was a pillar of both strength and gentle support in what is sometimes a very harsh world.
I feel very blessed to have several recent memories with my grandmother, but two really stand out to me.
One was about five years ago when I randomly decided to pop over to visit her a bit before I moved to Colorado. I saw her that day, for the first time in a long time, feeling youthful and carefree. She talked about the cute guy upstairs (that she never did ask out on a date, being committed to my late grandfather until her last day), introduced me to her crew of girlfriends that did puzzles together on Thursday nights with “crackers, cheese, and a bottle of wine,” and brought me to her retirement community’s happy hour (two drink maximum – you’ve got to keep those retired folks from going too cray, you know.) We shared favorite books and memories and just had fun. It was perhaps the first time that I realized how much I valued having my grandmother as a friend, as much as having her as a mentor.
More recently, I loved when I went to go visit this past May. We sat out in her retirement home’s garden and helped the garden club create finish up a few planters. Even after having a few strokes and missing a few details, she was bragging about some of my successes and had us walk around with Lux to show him off, too. It lit up my heart to know that she thought I was doing well in life and that, through all of the twists and turns life has taken in the past few years, she was truly proud of me.
I am so sad that my grandmother has now passed on, that I won’t be able to hold her hand, or kiss her forehead, or give her a big hug when we reassure each other that everything is going to be okay. Though I feel so honored and blessed to have had such a kind, strong, inspiring woman in my life for so many pivotal years.
Rest in peace, grandma. I hope that you’re up there swing dancing the night away with grandpa and Aunt Pat. I love you.