I said good-bye to my grandmother this weekend. She lived for 90 years and was the matriarch of our family. Her death brought many of her children, grandchildren (22), great-grandchildren (49), and relatives and friends together. It was the first time I was calmly tearful at a funeral service, as opposed to tearfully sad. I knew Grandma was at peace. I wasn’t heart-broken. I was reflective and proud.
I visited my grandmother two weeks ago. I sat with her in the hospital room, rubbed her favorite lavender oil behind her ears and whispered I love you. She woke up in pain as the medications wore off. I fed her jell-o and wondered when the suffering would end.
It was three days later. I received a call that my Grammie refused food. She wanted to go home. Caring for a person in their last days on earth is special. Maybe that sounds odd, but, for me, it was. I only had a tiny glimpse, but there was such peace in that little room while she rested.
There existed a closeness to the other side. Like I, too, could touch it, maybe blink and feel heaven. A special peace comes when the mind and body is one. The power of the mind is immense. It was obvious to me that my grandmother’s mind had made a decision for her earthly body. She was ready for freedom.
A Life fulfilled
I can only hope to have her kind of effect on the world. A head nurse, a devoted wife, dedicated mother and even care-taker of her in-laws in their last years of life. Not every moment was perfect. There were hard times, stressful times, and uncertain times.
There were times when she would clean up on a weekend. Then four rowdy boys would clamour inside, traipsing mud all over the floors, destroying the sparkling-clean bathroom. And the nights where she would wait, listening for the footsteps of her children, all 7 of them, on the creeky stairs. Had they made it home from their evening teenage antics? She would call their names aloud and pray.
After I had my third child I asked her, “Grandma, how did you do it?” I was tired with a toddler, non-sleeping infant and a 9-year old. I couldn’t believe she managed 7. She told me, “those are the best memories, the greatest times of my life. When they were all young and we went to the supermarket, or to the beach. I look back fondly on those days. Cherish them.”
Cherish it Now
So, I do. I take the 12-day vacation in which 6 of us plus the dog drive down the coast. I pack up everyone and head to Costco, get the play doh out at restaurants and create experiences with my young children. As an ADHD mom I forget suitcases, make messes and probably yell more than other moms of 3, but I’m still doing it. I will look back fondly. I. Will. Cherish. This.
Last Sunday I looked out over my cousins’ country property and watched 60 family members soak each other in. I realized why my grandmother was at peace: she had done meaningful things in her life. Her career, her marriage, her children and her choices fulfilled her. If we’re (her family) a worthy legacy, then she made a great impact on this world. And she cherished us. I love you, Grammie.
What moments will you cherish? How many suitcases will you forget creating memories on this life journey?