Last Thursday evening, with the warmth of summer in the air, my dear Grandma Atkinson peacefully left this life. Though we had had time to prepare ourselves for losing her, I was still shocked and heartbroken when I heard my mom's tearful, far away voice break the sad news to me over the phone. I've found myself aching to bridge the geographical distance between her and me and my aunt Christina over the past several days, wanting to be close to them especially now that our mom and grandma's delicate hands are suddenly beyond all of our reach.
In her happier, younger years, my grandma was a firecracker tucked into a tiny frame, a spirited little lady who was often the life of the party. I remember her in a pretty apron, hosting large and lively family Christmas dinners, tap dancing and laughing in her Minnie Pearl hat, jumping into our swimming pool fully clothed with an open umbrella over her head, Mary Poppins style. She loved butterflies, and the colours red and purple, which she often wore together, a perfect match for her vibrant personality.
It's been sad to watch old age slowly extinguish her spark over the last several years. I helped Christina with my grandma's late life moves, first from her house to an apartment, and then from her apartment to a nursing home as her health deteriorated. I ached inside as we had to shrink down all of the accumulated treasures of her life with each move, a sorrow that intensified as my grandma's physical frame grew tinier, and frail. Still, I'm so thankful to have been a part of her life until the end. I felt it a sweet honour to return in some small way the love she gave me in my growing up years, when her home was my second one.
My grandma did not want us to remember her with tears and sadness over what was lost. When Christina was going through her mom's papers in recent days, she came across a quotation from Little House on the Prairie that Grandma had written in a journal years ago:
"Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I'll remember you all."
We had so many fun-filled years with her that she's made it easy for us to honour her wish. We will celebrate her life, fittingly, with fireworks later on this summer.
I'm hopeful that today my Grandma has found her dancing legs again, and is laughing somewhere with all of her loved ones who went before her. I will remember her with joy every time I see a beautiful butterfly flitting among the blooms in my garden, or catch a glimpse of her smile and spunk in my little cousin Stella, or hear echoes of her giggle in bubbles floating cheerfully on a summer breeze. Her colourful spirit will continue, always, to light up our lives.
When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
For Grandma, with love
Labels: family life
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Thanks for the hugs, Louise.Delete
Very beautifully written. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Beverly. It's nice to hear from you -- I hope all is well with you!Delete
Oh, what a beautiful tribute you've written to your grandmother, Lisa. I love that she had that quote written in her journal. It's tough guidance to follow though, especially initially. Sending you lots of love and hugs, dear.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Shirley, for your kind comment and for your love and hugs. xoxoDelete
So sorry to hear about your grandma. I know she was a very special person in your life.ReplyDelete
I am sure she has found her dancing legs again!
You now have a wonderful angel watching over you - she will always be with you!
Janet (and Kevin, Connor and Rosie )
Thank you for your thoughtful note, Janet. I'm sure she is watching over all of us, too. xoxoDelete