Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A weight lifted.

 With my mom and my aunt - my grandma's two remaining children - back here in Michigan I feel such a sense of relief. Not so much for myself, really, but for all of them. I am glad they came back when they did so they will have some time with grandma before her health declines beyond the point of her being able to communicate, and I'm glad grandma feels the love of her children around her as she makes the journey from this world to eternity.

Yesterday when I told grandma they would be coming to visit her she got a little upset that everyone made the trip home from Florida for her. I assured her it was their choice and besides, my parents missed all their grandbabies. She fussed at me like only a grandma can. "When did you call?" she asked me. I told her I had called them sometime over the weekend.

"You lie," she said.

That woman can see right through me.

It made me laugh, and I confessed I had called my mom on Friday.

It wasn't until later that it hit me. The sadness. There are only so many people in a person's life that one can have that kind of relationship with. Isn't it our grandmothers who we can count on for something way beyond unconditional love? Our grandmas who become our best friends because they look past our faults and our screw-ups and accept us no matter what? If we're lucky, our grandmas become our soft place to land. Grandma's house is a haven that fills our childhood memories with the smell of freshly baked peanut butter cookies and freshly brewed coffee. Or in my case, windmill cookies, oatmeal, fried egg sandwiches and Tang.

I asked grandma if she was mad at me for asking her children to come home. She took my face in her shaky hands and told me she couldn't be mad at me.

See? We learn at a young age there are certain things grandma will let us get away with. Thirty-four years old and I still know there isn't a thing in this world I could do that would make her stop loving me. I don't take that for granted for one second.

When my mom and aunt arrived, grandma's face lit up and she lifted her arms to hug them both. She told my mom I had taken great care of her. "She loves you like we do," mom said.

What a great legacy, to have been loved by your children and grandchildren - and GREAT grandchildren - so much that they would move mountains for you. To have lived a life and set an example of love and faithfulness to your spouse and the rest of your family and friends. My grandma is not a social butterfly; she does not have a lot of friends but she has a few very good friends. Her life's focus has been her family, and this has become more and more apparent to me as I have spent so much time with her these past couple months.

At Steve's grandfather's funeral several years ago the pastor had a few words for the younger children to help them cope with grandpa's death. She said (in my terribly paraphrased words) they could think of Grandpa Marion like a dandelion when it gets all white and fluffy. If you pick that dandelion and hold it up into the breeze, those fluffy seeds will take flight and disperse - just like how Grandpa Marion spread joy and love in this world.

Grandpa Marion died in the fall, but my children remembered what the pastor said and in the spring I'll be danged if they didn't pick every stinkin' fluffy dandelion and blow those seeds all over the place. So every spring since then, Grandpa Marion's legacy leaves a bright yellow blanket of dandelions in our front yard. I grumble every time I push the mower over those tangled stems, but I also imagine Grandpa Marion looking down at us and smiling, and somehow I manage to see some beauty in those blasted weeds.

I think he would appreciate the humor there.

What a wonderful legacy Steve and I and our children have received from all our grandparents: Seeing beauty in the everyday. Loving unconditionally. Creating a family. Teaching compassion. Spreading joy.

And laughter. We mustn't forget the laughter.

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