Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No one will ever love me like my Grandma. . .

For 36 years of my life I had this amazing person that I could count on no matter what.  If I needed someone to talk to, she was always there.  If I needed a hug, she was always there.  If I needed someone to tell me it was all going to be OK, she was always there.  She laughed with me when I laughed.  She cried with me when I cried.  She prayed with me when I prayed (and prayed for me all other times).  I could tell her anything without being judged.  Grandma was just pure love.

Then on April 11, 2011 my beautiful Grandma passed away.  It wasn't like it was a surprise, the last couple of years were hard for her.  She really couldn't see or hear anymore, and with the loss of her vision and hearing her mind would play tricks on her.  She lost her ability to care for her family, the one thing she always did.  She hated that we had to care for her, she didn't like the roles reversed that way.  The last year things were so hard for her, moving was painful.  She missed Grandpa and Aunt Mary tremendously, and although she didn't want to leave us she really wanted to be there with them.  We all knew in our minds that she would eventually join them, but Grandma was a super human and I think most of us also had it in our minds that Grandma would somehow out live us all.

366 days ago (gotta love leap year) my Grandma left this world.  366 days ago my best friend, my biggest supporter, the strongest person I ever met in my life left this world.  Two Easters have happened since then.  A summer, a fall, a winter, and now a spring.  Everyone's birthday has passed.  Thanksgiving and Christmas has passed, all without Grandma.  New family members were added, and there was no Grandma there to give them a wet kiss and pat their diapered bottom.  So much has happened in that time, and Grandma has not been here to share it with.

During these 366 days we also found out a lot about Grandma that we didn't know.  We found out she was stronger and more amazing than any of us thought.  We found out that Grandma was what she always told us she was, "The richest woman who ever walked the earth", because she truly had a treasure, and to her that treasure was us - her children - her grandchildren - her great grandchildren - her great, great grandchildren.

For me, the last 366 days have required me to reinvent myself in a way.  I don't like this world without my Grandma in it.  This isn't really a world that I enjoy living in.  So much of my life is the way it is because of her.  I went to college because of her support.  I went into dietetics because of her.  I am the mother I am because of her.  Without her, I feel lost.  I feel like a huge part of who I am is missing.  I imagine this is how someone who loses a limb feels - they have this part of them that they have used for support their entire life and now that part is gone and they have to learn to function in a new way.  You may learn to function with out that limb, but no matter what it just isn't the same.  That is how I am without my Grandma, I am learning to function again, but it will never be the same and I will never be complete.

In these last 366 days I have had to deal with a lot of guilt (gotta love that Catholic influence in my upbringing).  I have thought of all the times I should have visited with her, but didn't.  All those times I could have but didn't.  All those times when I did visit that I didn't stay as long as I should have.  Had to get home and do something I thought needed to be done.  All those lunches I didn't take the kids to because I didn't want them to terrorize her house.  I didn't go to because I didn't want her to worry about having to make a gluten free food for Gabe.  She would have been fine with her house being terrorized and she would have loved to make a gluten free meal for Gabe.  All those things I look back on that I wish I could have changed - those things I would have done anything to change.

I have tried to focus on all those summers we spent together.  All the holidays I spent there.  The trips to Ohio to visit Mrs. Gordon.  The trips to Indiana to show her the Abshire cabin and the old Abshire land.  I cherish all the times we grocery shopped together.  All the lunches we had together.  Christmas shopping together.  Buying those little items that I knew she loved but would never purchase for herself.  No one was more fun to buy things for than my Grandma.  No one was more fun to do things with than my Grandma.  Even when she was mad she was funny!  I can't tell you how many times she would be angry about something or someone and it would end with us just laughing.  I focus on the way her face lit up that last Thursday before she passed away.  She was herself totally again that day, and when she saw it was me her face lit up.  We spoke about us moving to Florida.  She told me how much she was going to miss me, and even at that time I was thinking that it was me that was going to miss her.  She told me about when her and Grandpa lived in Pensacola, and how much she loved it there.  I try very hard to focus on those good times, and not think about the things I can not change.

I focus on the moments I when I know she was with us in this last year.  The dreams where she was so real in my dreams that I woke and still felt the warmth of her arms around me.  I try to remember that she is no longer in pain in that chair.  She isn't blind or deaf anymore.  If the Christian heaven exists like she believed it existed I know she is there with my Grandpa and Aunt Mary.  Somewhere she is taking care of babies and playing with children.  Her joyful spirit is gracing heaving, and maybe every now and then she can see and hear me when I talk to her.

I will try to spend my life remembering who she was and the things she taught me.  I will teach her legacy to my children and my Grandchildren.  Not long after she passed away and we found out more about her history I decided that this was a story that needed to be put in writing.  Her story needed to not be forgotten, even if it was only for her family to remember.  I am finally at a point where I think I can begin compiling this story for the family to have.  My promise to my Grandma is that I will never forget her, Grandpa, Aunt Mary, and all those family members who were gone long before I was born yet she spoke about to me.

Grandma's strength will not be forgotten.  Poverty, hunger, loneliness, health issues, loss - they did not destroy by Grandma's spirit.  It did not break her faith.  All the things that my Grandma went thought that would break a normal person's spirit did not break my Grandmothers.  Grandma still had joy and love and she passed that joy and love on to us.  We were her riches and as long as she had us that was all she needed to be happy.

Grandma taught me to see people as they are.  In this world where a person's worth seems to be so tied to their wealth, Grandma taught me to look deeper.  We are all people.  Just because someone is wealthy doesn't mean they worked hard for it, and just because someone is poor doesn't mean they were lazy.  I know in my life the hardest working people I have ever met live paycheck to paycheck.  Life is what it is and chance is what it is and just because you are smart and hard working doesn't mean life will turn out a certain way for you.  The greatest people who ever walked the face of this earth have never been on the cover of a magazine, they don't live in mansions, or have massive bank accounts or expensive cars, instead, the greatest people on this earth are the ones who support and love each other.  They are the people that keep joy in their life even though from the outside there appears to be nothing to be joyful about.  They are the people who stay true to themselves and to those they love even when this world says they are wrong.

No one will ever love me the way my Grandma loved me, and I shall never love another person the way I loved my Grandma. . .

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