Another month has slipped by with nothing to show for it here. It was a rough month, I guess. I’ve been working on this entry for a while and it really doesn’t feel finished. Still, it’s time to let it go, to put it up. Just a few things I feel like sharing.
I lost my last grandparent on October 2. On my wedding day, in 2001, all four of my grandparents, and two of my husband’s, were in attendance. They all danced at our wedding, and we felt so blessed to have them there. Instead of throwing the bouquet, I gave it to the set of grandparents married the longest, just short of 60 years at the time.
They are all gone now. But I know a couple things about them that need to be shared. They were flawed, quirky, brilliant, strong people, and you should know a few other things.
- They loved us. All of them, all of us. Nobody, ever, in the history of grandchildren has been more cherished and loved than the 30 some grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even one great great grandchild of these grandparents. Loved so deeply that their example will live long after their deaths.
- They loved each other. My husband’s grandfather called her Babe. It was sweet and silly and gave me goosebumps. He held her hand whenever he could. My paternal grandfather was so fiercely protective of my grandmother it left an impression on everyone who knew them. And my maternal grandfather, the last to leave us, spoke regularly in his final weeks of just wanting to dance again with Grandma.
- They were people of enormous faith. My grandparents-in-law spent most of their married life working in the Methodist church in their community. Their funerals were held there. All four of my own grandparents were members of the Emanuel Lutheran in Marion, Ohio. All their children were baptised there, as was I, and all four funerals were held there. At each of their funerals we sang their favorite hymns and praised God for the gift of their lives, and commended their souls to the arms of Jesus. Each time, I was struck as they wheeled out the casket that it was the last time they’d leave the church.
These are my maternal grandparents. Seems like all the pictures I have of them together are like this. He is always looking at her.
Today, I got into a discussion on Facebook about how to make the holidays a little better after losing a loved one. Some people are of the mind that a change is needed, something different, to keep from getting “stuck in sad.” I know where they’re coming from, I understand completely. I just don’t agree. For me, it’s really important that our Thanksgiving and Christmas will be pretty much the same as ever. There will be an absence, for sure, but we’ll tackle the new reality. My grandparents haven’t hosted these holidays for a long time, so it’s easy to carry on. We’ll still gather at my parents’ home for Christmas. There will still be thirty people or so gathered. We’ll still tell the same stories, sing the same songs, and yell at the same kids. It won’t always be that way. There will certainly continue to be an evolution to these holidays, but they won’t change because we lost one of the senior members of our family. The circle of life (Yes, I did just see the Lion King on stage and it was fabulous) will keep going. We’ll laugh and remember them. We’ll tell stories and poke fun. They were wonderful people, all of them, but they had short comings and flaws, too.
Someday we’ll have to gather somewhere else, and kids growing up and having their own families will change the make up of the group that can gather. Still, I hope that my family, or some portion of it, will always continue to gather on these holidays. We are so lucky to be such a bunch of loving, crazy, nutcases! Holidays have not been a place for folks to fight or ignore each other in my family. We’re as nutty and dysfunctional as the next family, but we love being together. What a gift! Thank you, God for my family!
And if you’d like to see it, here’s the wonderful video my uncle made for Grandpa’s memorial. I think he did an excellent job.