I wrote this a month ago, and then decided against sharing it. Through the help of family it was shared on Facebook. I figured I might as well share it here. Sometimes I need a little push when it comes to putting my thoughts and emotions out for all to see.
Up until recently, I had never lost a grandparent. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like. But really, I don’t know what it’s like to have grandparents. At least, not the type that you see in movies or hear all of your friends talk about having. I don’t know what it’s like to live near a grandmother and be able to bake cookies with her, go to the park, hear stories of back when, or whatever else Grandparents typically do with grandkids that live close by. I barely know what it’s like to have a Grandmother that is healthy enough to recognize, remember or know who you are when you visit every year or so.
When my sweet Grandmother passed away last month, I didn’t know how to feel. It didn’t seem fair to grieve over the loss of a Grandmother that I hardly knew. I hurt so much more for all my family that does know her, as I think about what they must be going through. My heart had been aching. Not from personal loss. But from the pain that so many, close to me were suffering. Even more so perhaps, for the lack of personal loss at my Grandmother’s passing. I never lived near my Grandparents, and my Grandmother has been sick for all of the scattered visits I can remember. I began to grieve, not because of a relationship I would miss, or time spent together, for I never had much of either. I grieved at the fact that I didn’t’ even know my Grandmother. Not like other family members did. I felt I didn’t even have a right to miss her, when compared to so many others, I didn’t know her. Then I realized I did. I did know my Grandmother. Just not in the same way.
Let me tell you how I know my Grandmother.
I know she liked to look nice. Due to my curiosity and desire to know what my Grandmother was like before she was bedridden with M.S., I found myself, on more occasion than one, trying on pieces of her beautifully diverse jewelry collection and fitting myself into a few of her fun jackets and vests. Maybe this wasn’t appropriate to do (or appropriate to share right now), but I know my Grandmother had a sense of style and I know she always looked good.
I know she found joy in the little things and found pleasure in small details. My Mom has a great appreciation for birds and always finds joy in seeing them. I know no other reason for this other than the fact that her mom had a love for these simple, seemingly insignificant, beautiful, free creatures. I know her attention to detail by the way she carefully dressed and positioned the dolls sitting on shelves and counters throughout her house.
I know she was attentive and did not like to miss out. Even the last time I visited my Grandparents, despite her body (unable to move) facing out the window away from the rest of the room, and her mind slowly fading… she couldn’t bare to be left out. Any time a word was spoken that she couldn’t hear, she demanded to know what was being said. She must have been quite the social butterfly.
I know she was strong. From the little I did know of her, she was stubborn and strong willed. Though she usually seemed very agreeable, she could put up a fight if she wanted to, and in her last days (from what I hear), she most definitely did.
I know she was joyful. Oh, so full of joy. I know this by the full smile that spread across her face in photos of her as a young mother. The same one that she wore each day she lay in bed, completely dependent. Anytime words were spoken, time given or a touch shared, she displayed her beautiful smile as brightly as I believe she ever had. And I know this by their joy: by the joy of her children. My mother and aunts are more full of joy than anyone I know. And I imagine my Grandmother must have enjoyed a good time. I know she always liked a reason to laugh. She must have loved to, “ride the ponies!” (A phrase my family uses when they’re having a good time together.)
But most of all, I know her by their love. Yes, their love. The love of her husband, my dear Grandad, and the way he patiently cared for her so many years. Even till the end being ever so caring and loving with each touch and word. And the way her children took care of her, giving of time and energy. Given to her, not out of obligation, but love. I know this by the way they love and care for their own families. These kinds of actions could not be produced from obligation, or command, but only in response to a love received. I know her by my Mother’s love. The way she loves me unconditionally and lives with a servants heart loving not only her own children, but also all of those she comes in contact with. I know her by their love. The love which they give so generously and freely; a love that can only be given in such abundance when it is overflowing from another source. Love can’t be taught through discipline or commanded by the authority…even that of a parent. Love can only be taught by example. My Grandmother must have loved well. Because without much to go off of, but what she left behind, I know her by their love.
I’m truly rejoicing over my Grandmother being restored and made whole. Free from pain and physical restriction. Reunited with her savior in her vibrant youthful state that I always imagined seeing her in. Soaking in untainted love, at the source.