I wasn’t sure whether I should write about such personal circumstances in this space, but I wanted to share a little bit about who my grandma was. She passed away just yesterday. I know I will miss her deeply, but I am comforted that she is no longer in pain. This is also a time to reflect and remember who she was and to celebrate the brightness that she’s added to our lives.
I grew up living right next door to her. And her love for her family was incredible. She took such joy in being together with family. If I could describe that in a word, it would be “involved.” I’ve never seen a family quite as close as ours. That would be her doing. Grandma and Grandad had five children. While Grandad did not care for social events, Grandma would jump at the chance for a gathering. My aunts, uncles, and cousins get together for every holiday. Birthdays. Graduations. We gather on weekends to sit out by the pond or the pool. We vacation together. We even have little gatherings over coffee. Even though the grandkids have all grown, we return as much as possible because we know in the space of this family that we are loved as we are.
We also know that being loved and accepted meant that Grandma was not going to refrain from telling us what she thought. One of the stories that my mom likes to share about her is from my very early childhood. I was playing outside on a nice day. My grandma came out to my mom. “Get a scarf on that baby’s head!” My mom obeyed.
It’s funny how such things become ingrained. Just last weekend, my brother was outside with my nieces and nephew and I with my kids. My mom came outside and declared “those babies need hats on their heads!” Like mother, like daughter.
I will never forgot this woman’s smile. She wore it frequently. She loved to laugh. She delighted in music and dancing. She always wanted us to dance at family gatherings. During my teen years, this was particularly awkward. I look back on a certain picture of my mom and my cousin dancing. There in the background is grandma just grinning away. She lived for those moments. She loved to play with her grandchildren. She held all of the babies. She laughed with the little kids. During her earlier years, she’d even play with us in the pool.
As I grew older, I would walk across the yard to her house to watch basketball games. Grandma, Grandad and I would play “eeiney meenie miney mo” to determine who was going to make the popcorn. We started with the same spot every single time. Grandma was “mo” every single time. But dutifully “Mo” would get up and go make us popcorn as we chanted after her “Go, Mo, Go!”. As I grew older still and moved away, I came back home and would run over to Grandma and Grandad’s so we could have one of our chats. When I married and had children, I was grateful that Grandma was able to meet them. She’s been “involved” my entire life.
Though she is gone, I am ever so grateful to have known her. I feel so fortunate to have been able to grow up in the family that she created. She may not be physically with us any longer, but we all carry her with us. She is a part of our family history and our traditions that we will pass along to our own children. And a smile like hers will live on through all of us.