This week my grandmother passed away. The funeral was yesterday and I’m filled with mixed emotions. Sad because I miss her but relieved that she is no longer in pain. I had a great honour to speak at her funeral with my cousins and mom. I think there’s a powerful message in celebrating someone’s life and taking even a sliver of their life’s work and weaving into your own both to honour them and also to improve our own lives.
Here’s what I shared:
I remember early days of lounging by the pool at my grandparents, napping in the nursery and having loud family dinners fill with laughter. My brother and I going home in our PJ’s bellies full and tired after an amazing home cooked meal.
It’s my 13th birthday and our relationship is strained but she and my grandfather were there. She always wanted to be there. She never really wanted to miss a moment regardless of the family dynamics. I admire the fighter in her. I admire her desire to bring family back together. But we will come back to that.
I graduate from University and make my way back to Toronto to my first full-time job. I fell in love, got engaged and then experienced heart-break like never before. At the time my grandmother was spending winters in Florida. I went alone to spend a week with her. She encouraged me to sleep, run, read, shop and eat. She told me I would find love again but this time I’d be able to recognize the real thing. I returned capable of managing through unravelling the details of a wedding and putting myself back together – but this time stronger.
Shopping at Holt Renfrew on Bloor. An experience to remember. The sales girls knowing my grandmother by name and having already put aside one of everything in her size and preferred colours off to the side for her to try on the season’s latest. Afterwards we would go for lunch and just talk. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon with her.
I find love again – he’s more amazing every day we’re together. She was right I knew love right away this time.
Proud grandmother makes one of three bridal luncheons and among many helped celebrate the day my husband and I got married.
My husband and I host our first dinner in our new home. I mentally took note of my grandmother’s face. The sense of pride and happiness seeing her eldest grandchild host a dinner using her fine china.
The excitement she had becoming a great-grandmother. I’m so glad I could give her that gift and have three and a half years spending time together.
These are but some of our memories. They are special. Bu tour family was and is not perfect as I mentioned. My grandmother treasured family but grew up in a time where she didn’t always know how to manage through the dynamics. All she ever wanted was for her family to be together. Being a persistent woman she went to great lengths which sometimes caused a lot of frustration for her.
She and I spent a lot of time after I graduated University rebuilding our relationship. Understanding who each of us was and forgiving things from the past in order to move forward.
In that spirit let’s take a moment to honour her desire for family. Let us all think about our own families and relationships. What resentment or hurt are you willing to let go of right her, right now in this moment and replace it with thoughts of love, acceptance and new possibilities? I know this is a big ask, but please try.
With luck each of us will have 80 or more years as she did. But the goal shouldn’t be to live thinking we do…but to live thinking that our time here happens but once and it will always be too short.