FOLLOWING IN HER FOOTSTEPS

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I got a call from my mom last Wednesday just before 6pm. My gran had died. My first thought was relief that she had passed peacefully, then I thought about her finally being exactly where she was always meant to be … with my Grampa. I went a little numb while I dealt with sorting out supper, bathing the children and getting everyone ready for bed. Then at the end of the evening while I sat with my husband on the couch I began to remember her. What she felts like, smelt like, sounded like, her smile, her laugh, her eyes … her skin was old and soft and I loved rolling it in my fingers since as long as I could remember, from when I was a little girl. Especially her elbows … and I cried. I checked in on my sister, brother and cousins. And I cried.

Granny was one half of a power couple! Granny and Grampa were a strong, powerful example of what real love, real marriage and the value of family stood for. Grampa used to joke that ‘he was the boss’, and Gran would always joke back that made her ‘the boss of the boss!’ One thing I loved about them, as a couple, was that they stood together on everything, united, no matter what. Often in the days after Grampa died Gran and I would talk about how we both missed him so much, and how she couldn’t wait to be with him again, but that didn’t take away from the wholeness and strength of who she was as an individual.

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Granny showed each of us what it was to be a strong woman. She was always steadfast and strong in her faith, her spirit, her heart and for the most part, her body too. She was not a materialist, she enjoyed living simply, and she loved her family.

She was one of the wealthiest people you’d ever meet – and when you’d meet her you knew she was rich in those things money cannot buy: manners, morals, respect, character, common sense, trust, patience, class, integrity and love.

Her and Grampa’s influence on me, and I’m sure each of us grandchildren, was nothing short of profound. I can say, unequivocally, that I would not be me without their influence on my life. My childhood memories are filled with them. Their routines, quirks, strictness, fun, tricks and mostly how well they balanced each other out.

Gran chilled out a lot in her old age and I think was softened by her thirteen great grandchildren. She was always interested in how each of of her grandchildren, our spouses and her great grand babies were doing, in their lives, at school, at home and with each other. I loved that about her.

I love that in so many obvious ways we each inherited some of her traits and quirks. Like Esther, Janay and I definitely got her waterworks! We will each cry at the drop of a hat, whether we are happy or sad, it’s a default setting we got from her. I know without a doubt that the black and white way in which I see the world, in definite rights and wrongs, comes from her. I think my mom’s way of trying to keep the balance and make sure each of us is heard and taken care of comes from granny. I think Aunty Denise takes after her in being uncomplicated and relaxed about life. It’s clear mom, Denise and Julie got the cooking and baking genes … I clearly got the eating ones!

Dad, uncle Paul, uncle Bryan and the boys have been witness, over many years, to the strength of the women around them, being married to them, raising them and growing up with them, which has all been a direct influence, of my gran.

Granny was very ready to go. She had had a great life, and was thoroughly grateful, for everything she had experienced, and everyone she had in it. She knew without a doubt she was going to be with Jesus and with Grampa. Her only fear, in the end, was to die in pain, which she did not. She slipped away peacefully and we thank God for that.

Hers is NOT a sad story. It’s only sad for us who have been left behind, but just because it felt like she would ALWAYS be here. Because, she had, always been there.

Granny was strong to the end, in Spirit, and in Faith. She was a dame. She was a lady. She was so much love.

Say hi to Grampa for me Gran. Tell him about our beautiful big family! Give him a hug and squeeze for me. I’m quite jealous you’re getting to see him again, but I’m so happy that one of the greatest love stories of our time ends with you being together again.

We will all miss you, and we will remember you forever.

It’s all the smallest things that add up to how you remember your life and the special people in it, and I will savour each moment I have with the people I love, through the good and the bad, through the messy hair and unwashed feet, through the tiredness and the busyness. I will find perfection in the imperfections of everyday life. Like you did. I will continue to honour yours and Grampa’s memory by raising my children in a way you would be proud of.

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