Thursday, October 16, 2014

In remembrance

When I received the call, my heart dropped. I knew that bad news was on the other line as I looked down at my phone to see my mothers number. She confirmed my fears to tell me that my grandmother had passed. A piercing heartache was all I could feel for a while, random spouts of tears and confused moments of misunderstanding led me through my morning as I tried to deal with the loss of such a special person in my life.

Some people are closer to their family than others and to some a death that may be somewhat expected can be slightly easier to handle but it still strikes the heart fiercely. My grandmother had been in bad shape for a while, after having a stroke just before my wedding in 2008 she never quite came back to her health. She kept her spirits up, she still made jokes and we were blessed that the stroke did not take her mental health away so that she could still be present with us. Prior to her stroke she had fought through breast cancer, knee replacement surgeries and number of other medical obstacles. She fought strongly to stay with us as long as her physical body would allow. But I'd rather tell the story of her life, than that of her leaving us. 

What could I say about her that most people wouldn't say about their grandmothers, like most she was the kindest and sweetest grandmother a kid could hope for. An understanding and compassionate woman with open arms to comfort any sadness or worry. She had always looked at the positive side of things, so naturally she would calm our fears and worries and remind us to see the good in things. She saw the good in people, no matter how flawed they were. She loved her family, more than anyone could love a group a weirdos like us.  She stood by her children who, as children do, lived lives not necessarily always in line with her own values yet her love was unshaken. She was always there to listen and provide words of wisdom.

With unmatched patience she stood by the side of my grandfather who's humor was at times over the top but she laughed always, no matter how many times she had heard the joke or the story.  They have one of the greatest love stories I have ever heard, Nicholas Sparks has got nothing on these two.

After having met as children (he tells us "I used to throw rocks at her ugly little dog" and she'd chime in "you were so rotten") they grew up together in nearby neighborhoods. They went to different schools but would talk to each other through the fence when she'd stay at her cousin's who lived next-door to his family.

After he joined the service, while he and his bother were on leave, his brother told him he was going to marry my grandmothers cousin. So naturally grandpa thought, I think i'll marry Janet. Some how in this crazy world he convinced her to abandon her previous plans and take the leap down the aisle and they have been head over heels in love ever since. As i have grown I have come to respect and admire that deep love and will forever aspire to be as much of a  loving and supportive partner to my husband as they were to each other.

When I chose to move to San Diego, to leave my family and start a fresh life, many of my friends and family were shocked and discouraging because they were worried or simply didn't want us to go so far a way. But my grandmother was so supportive. We sat and talked for a long while about it before I left. She had told me that she had always dreamed of moving to California when they were younger but it never really worked out. As I looked at her, in the hospice unable to pack her bags and go wherever she wanted, I felt an undeniable need to do it for her. She's always supported me and made me feel like I truly could do anything I aspired to. This move has turned out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened and I have her support to thank for it. I know now, that I will not live in regret for the things I didn't do.

This photo is us in California when I was a little girl.  Coming to the west coast to visit us, during our short residence in Garden Grove, was such a special experience for all of us. I feel like now her spirit is with me again, when I'm here looking out at the ocean with my toes in the sand. She can be here too and I can take comfort in that.  

As a woman I feel a deep kinship to my mother and grandmother. We share a sacred bond of womanhood that has been passed down through generations. A piece of me has left with her, yet it was equally replaced with a piece of her to live on in me. My mother, the only daughter amongst three sons, was given  a beautiful band of small diamonds by my grandmother. It had also been her mother's ring. A short time before I was married in 2008, my mother gave me the ring, passing the tradition on to me the fourth generation. And someday I will give the ring to my daughter, and continue the beautiful cycle.   We carry on the traits of our ancestors and pass them to our own little contributions to the world. I cannot wait to share her wisdom, her love, her kindness and everything wondrous part of her on to my own children some day. She will shine through them.

I feel like she is already with me, guiding me in this stressful time as I make plans to head home less than 24 hours from now. Getting home just seemed like the automatic response; I feel this necessity to be there with my mother, to be there for her and for her to be there for me. Within a night and half a day, two co-workers have covered my shifts and  a wonderful friend has helped me figure out an affordable plane ticket so that I may get home. My friends have been here for me; checking in, taking me for acai bowls, doing lots of yoga, meditating, making me tea, and helping me go through the emotions at my own pace.Which just confirms another thing that my grandmother always believed, and that was that there is good in everyone. I am truly blessed to have the friends and family that I do because they are here for me in a time of sadness.

I feel a sense of relief that my grandmother is no longer in pain and smile at the idea that she could very well be sipping Pina colada's out of a coconut while sitting on the beach with her sister and hopefully early 60's Elvis (the hunk).  She will be with me the whole way, protecting me so I can get to her daughter safely so that we may come together to celebrate her life and begin to heal and carry her spirit on forward.


 I went home to Denver to visit my family after two years in California back in August. I am so incredible  

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