This blog post is a tribute to my grandmother, who past away last Saturday evening.
Her story has intertwined with mine and helped to lead me to where I am today. The intentional focus to help those who are in times of grief, loss and transition has become my charge in life.
It is not the beginning or the end date to her life, rather what mattered most of all is the dash between those years.
It’s the little things that seem to stand out the most—her rolled up Kleenexes, her colorful quilts, the way she sipped her Old Milwaukee, her panned blueberry desert, the aroma of her kitchen, and the warm smile greeting me when I arrived to her door.
I’ll remember the way she tapped her foot to favorite polka songs on the radio or showing us her gardening in the backyard. There are so many things that I can see and feel as if they had just happened.
I’m sure you share similar memories of loved ones now gone. They are good memories, something we’ll always have to cherish. It isn’t often that someone so special comes into our life to stay with us forever. Grandma was that kind of person.
The only way to get hurt in this life is to care. Grandma cared more than most, loved more than most and was made to suffer more than most because of just how much she cared.
But no matter how many times she was knocked down or made to endure things that no one should, she just kept coming back; caring more and loving more—opening herself up to even more pain. Despite life’s hard times, I never heard complaints or a tone of bitterness—and from her example I’ve learned how I want to live.
The kind of love Grandma felt for us was without condition. She may not have approved of everything we did, may not have liked some of the decisions we made, but she didn’t lecture, she didn’t judge. She just kept loving us, letting us know that she was there and if we ever needed her, we could count on her to listen, to comfort, to help.
She lived a simple life. It didn’t take much to make her happy—a phone call, a card, a visit, or a kiss before saying good night. We were the most important people in the world to her. She lived to make our lives better and was proud of us.
To think that someone like her felt that way about us should make us all feel more than just a little good. We can never forget that there is a part of her in each of us, something that she gave to us and asked nothing for in return.
Money can be squandered and property ruined, but what we inherited from her cannot be damaged, destroyed or lost. It is permanent, and it keeps her from becoming just a wonderful memory. It allows her in so many ways to remain just as alive as always—alive through us.
There have been and will be times in our lives when situations arise where we’ll want so much to talk to her, be with her or ask her just what we should do. I hope that, when those times come, we can begin to look to each other and find that part of her that she gave to each of us.
Maybe we can learn to lean on each other and rely on each other the way we always knew that we could with her. Maybe then she won’t seem quite so far away.
So, for your wisdom, your humor, tenderness and compassion, your understanding, your patience and your love; thank you, Grandma. And as you always said before we hung up the phone or left to go back home, “love you guys”, we all say to you Grandma, “We love you and miss you dearly.”