This weekend I lost my grandma. She had been failing for a while, and just this year diagnosed with lung cancer. It was only a matter of time, and we were praying that she would go peacefully in her sleep… but you’re never really prepared for the end.
According to some, I was very lucky to have known all four of my grandparents, and for as long as I did. We were blessed to be able to see them regularly, beyond birthdays and holidays. The first house I knew was right next to my mother’s parents; I was able to run across the yard to see Grandma Edna, play with dress-up clothes, beads, paper dolls, stuffed animals, and whatever else she might have for my amusement. She and my grandfather were always very active, and did a flower and vegetable garden every year. Before we moved, Grandma Edna planted a small garden along the fence just for me. There was this one time, though, when I was there for lunch and she served liver salad…. I ate it, politely, hopefully with not too much of a grimace on my face.
A few years ago, I was so happy to learn I was pregnant, and with a baby girl – Gwendolyn. The first grandchild on my side of the family! That same year, both my grandfathers suffered fatal injuries in freak falls; It was heartbreaking to witness their decline in the hospital, to see grandmothers lose their husbands, and to know that my baby would never know them. Within the next year, my father’s mother passed away – she had health problems, like many older people, but I believe she just gave up because the love of her life was gone.
Grandma Edna was the only one left. She held on, despite her sorrow. She continued to garden, to remain as independent as possible. She had a number of close calls, and at one point was more than ready to go except that she wanted to see her grandson – Josiah, my second baby – before she left. She got her wish, and almost made it to his first birthday, and in fact passed away on Gwendolyn’s third birthday (their birthdays are two days apart). I know she is Home now, with my grandfather, and those that have gone before her. I often wonder – what is it like when one is reunited in Heaven? Did she tell them about Gwen, about Josiah? Do they know how much we miss them?
Every now and then I’ll have a good cry for their absence. Despite our grief, it is in fact a happy time, a time for celebration, because our loved one has lost her frail, earthly body. But selfishly, I think how Grandma will never again pat my hand and say “Lovey,” or ask me if I can use some of her canning jars in the basement or help myself to some rhubarb from her garden. My children probably won’t remember Great Grandma Edna who loved her grandbabies so much and lit up when she saw them, waiting patiently for her turn to hold them, then hugging them to herself with a content little smile on her face.
I have been so sad lately, contemplating life and all the changes we must face. Even the good ones – my little girl turning three, my baby boy turning one and growing out of his babyness. These things have a way of making you want to grab ahold of them, of the Good Stuff, relishing it and treasuring it while you can, knowing that time is slipping through your hands and will be gone before you know it. I can never seem to Seize the Day because of all the mundance necessities that need my attention, but just for now, I’m shirking my duties and letting the laundry sit while I think about Grandma Edna and what a wonderful legacy she has left. She was – in a favorite phrase of hers – “beautious lovely.”