My amazing, resilient grandmother died last week. We interred her today, and then had a great celebration of her life. It was a chance to see my extended family and spend some time with them, telling Mom-Mom stories, crying, hugging, and reminding ourselves that love is what bonds our family together.
And even though my grandmother, my mom's mother, my daughters great-grandmother isn't with us anymore, her love is what still keeps are family close. I suspect it will for years to come.
Over the last few years our family watched her health slowly slip away and knew that this day was coming. My mom, the oldest of her four girls, made countless trips to go help my grandfather tend to her. Several months ago she couldn't get her strength back enough to go home, so she moved to assisted living after being released from the hospital. Initially they had hoped that she would slowly recover, but after a while it was evident she needed full time care. They moved her to the hospice unit where she passed the other morning. My grandfather, her husband of 70 years, was at her side.
When I got to my grandparents house today, her walker was waiting for her in the hallway next to the garage. It was still waiting for her to come home.
When my mom called and told me she had passed I was sad, but prepared. And I didn't get emotional. It was weird. I was worried about my mom and my grandfather more than anything. And, I think we all knew this day was coming. She was ninety five years old. I was surprised at my lack of emotion at first. But it was easy to rationalize that feeling.
Today when I saw her walker in the hallway waiting for her, it started to hit me.
In her ninety five years she'd seen an awful lot. Born in 1921 she worked as a flight attendant before she married my grandfather, raised four daughters, traveled the world with my grandfather, had ten grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and was a hell of a golfer.
She loved to have a glass of wine while reading a book, or with dinner. She stitched Christmas stockings for her grandkids, and countless other projects. She loved to cook, especially big family dinners.
She stood by and loved her husband for seventy years.
To me, my grandfather has always been larger than life. To see him today, and earlier this year, when it was so evident the only thing he wanted in life was to have her home with him, in a lot of ways he's shown me what a marriage is all about.
And with all that, all she's seen and done, the one thing I'll take away from my grandmother, from Mom-Mom, is that she loved. And her love brought our family together. Her love was so strong, so real, that I still feel it even though she's gone. She's left this earth and I can still feel how much she loved me.
Tonight at dinner, after we were all done eating and some toasts had been made and stories about her were being told my grandfather stood up and said something that I couldn't hear. Then he sat down and said, "I hope you all get to experience this one day."
I think my larger than life grandfather, my Pop-Pop, made me realize more in that statement than quite possibly anything else in a long time.
If you were a part of our family, you felt our Mom-Mom's love. It was evident, and couldn't be mistaken. Pop-Pop, he felt it for seventy years. I don't really know specifically what he was talking about but I'd like to think he was talking about his wife's love. He had it through tough and good times. He had it through kids and grandkids. He had it through seventy Christmas's, seventy Ney Year's kisses, seventy years of holding her hand, seventy years of sleeping in the same bed together.
I think Pop-Pop was telling us that he hoped that all of us would feel the same love he felt.
He wanted us to all leave the walker in the hallway, hoping that our life partner was coming home.
In a small way, my tough and larger than life grandfather took my soft spoken and loving grandmothers place. He had to, because she couldn't be there tonight.
I think my Mom-Mom's love is going to live for quite a long time to come.
"In these bodies we will live. In these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life." (Mumford and Sons - Awake My Soul)