The loss of a grandparent is powerful because of their many sweet, near-silent powers. For those of you who have good relationships with your grandparents like I do, I encourage you to go as deep with them as you possibly can. Learn about their past, glean their wisdom, soak up their unadulterated love and create a friendship based not only on the shared memories of you as small child and and they as doting grandparent, but as two adults, two equals. My maternal grandmother died as I was packing for tour last week, her COPD getting the best of her much earlier than any of us had expected (the product of nearly 40 years of smoking). I immediately felt a pang at the realization that I had been meaning to call her for about 2 weeks and just “didn’t get around to it”. While I know there is no way she could have doubted my love for her, being that I told her multiple times since I saw her last (Halloween of 2011), it’s a pretty heavy load to bear when you catch yourself in the perpetual busyness of your life. We lose perspective and time passes quickly. We assume we will have another day until we don’t.
My grandmother and I were great buddies. I have always been her “Special Girl” but over the last 8 years, I cultivated an unfathomably deep friendship with her. I sought to understand in equal measure her strength of character and her sappy, soft emotional core. She has been a model to me about the strength and regality of femininity as well as the importance of family traditions, the reward of a job (thoroughly) well done, and the joy of the finer things in life. She never apologized for having the highest of standards for herself and for others and she really didn’t have to. She was one who taught by example. She expected no sacrifice from you that she herself wouldn’t make.
In the 29 years of knowing my nana, here is what I am able to take away and pay forward:
• the importance of good handwriting
• the art of wrapping Christmas presents
• the necessity of family traditions, no matter how you define family
• the willingness to take people into your home when in need
• the saying, “Every man my age wants a nurse or a purse.” (which I will use when I turn into an old coot)
• the power of honesty, no matter what
• the complexity of truing one’s own path and remaining connected as others do the same
She gave so much to the family and myself. If I can give her anything back, it would be a wish – for peace and the deepest, fullest expanse of her lungs wherever she is now.