People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel’ (M. Angelou)
You never know how you will be impacted by the death of one of your family members until it happens. My last grandparent, my maternal grandmother, passed away last Saturday.
Considering she reached the age of ninety, the funeral was a calm event, an opportunity for the grandchildren to celebrate her life and recall childhood memories.
There was one moment in church that really touched me. Her younger brother, now seventy plus years old himself, burst into tears when he kissed her cold hand as farewell. From the thirty-odd people in church, he was the only one who really knew her as a young girl and not as a mother, grandma or aunt. He was saying good bye to the older sister who fed him and protected him when the other kids bullied him.
My grandmother was born in a large family of nine siblings. Her mother died when she was five years old and she grew up with a stepmother and many younger step brothers and sisters. She married at the age of 19 and she spent the next 60 years of her life looking after her husband and their children. My grandfather died 13 years and since than she has been an old widow searching her place in the family. In her last few days of suffering, before she died, she uttered several times, in her sleep, the world ‘mama, mama’. Her mother died when she was 5 so she wouldn’t have remembered her face, but I guess she carried the mum’s image in her soul for the rest of her life.
She was more of a facilitator than the main character in our family. We struggled to share significant events that spoke about her personality. Although a soft spoken and gentle woman, the real gift that my grandmother had, was to make you feel special whenever you talked to her. We always felt like VIPs whenever we visited during summer holidays. We could ask for pancakes at 10 pm and it was immediately possible. Later in life, we came back with stories about our jobs, kids and travels and she listened with deep curiosity and admiration.
Although sad to see her go… I know that death brought an end to her suffering. Her death brought some deep emotions and questions for me:
You come to this world alone and feeling cold and you leave …alone and cold.
You carry your own mother in your soul for as long as you live.
Children build their own world once they fly out of the nest.
What is the point of a life of sacrifice?