A little voice called me up last week and said, “So, since Laila Mama can’t make it this year, would you like to come to Grandparents’ Day?”
It was your oldest granddaughter of course.
I must have paused for a moment, to catch my breath and hold back the tears, or the lump in my throat. Maybe it was the sweetness of that voice, that I didn’t expect to hear when I picked up the phone. I didn’t recognize the number. Or maybe it was just in her asking me to attend an event at her school, in your honour. But it was definitely not because I was unsure whether I could go. I knew it was the right thing to be there, for her and for you. And I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that.
I think I was just touched, for you mainly, because she started the whole question with you as the basis of it. And I hope you can feel how much she loves and thinks about you.
The funny thing is that there was no hi, no greeting of any kind on the phone. She just got straight to the question. And she kind of made it feel like it was a conversation carried on from another day, or another moment, even though we hadn’t actually talked for a couple of weeks. And we definitely didn’t talk about any of this kind of stuff.
Without realizing it myself, I think I needed that kind of familiarity, that kind of lightness about the whole topic. There was this definite sense that she wasn’t just asking me to be there, but that your granddaughter was acknowledging you. Yet, she didn’t say that you were gone, or passed away. It was just a simple, “since she can’t be here”.
Kids make things so easy sometimes.
And I have decided that on some days, that’s how I need to look at it. That I need to focus a little less on the heaviness of your passing away, and think of it more like you just can’t be here for some things physically. But that you might very well be here through it all with us in spirit. Maybe you were there with us at the school on Grandparents’ Day, even though we couldn’t see you.
I hope you could see or feel us. Were you the one who helped me beat the traffic even though I was so stuck before the bridge and didn’t think I would make it on time? I thought I left early enough, but then no cars were moving for the longest time and I panicked thinking that A. would think I forgot or something. I even called the school, asking them to pass on a message to her, letting her know I was on my way.
There was really no way that I should have made it there on time, but somehow, I did- even after parking and getting up all those stairs to the third floor of the school, somehow, I made it to the classroom just before A. did. Maybe you heard my prayer about it and helped.
Did you see A’s classroom, and her write up about Emily Carr? Did you see her teaching me her fraction puzzles, and reading me her art presentation?
And wasn’t she great in P.E.? Remember how I used to just do whatever I could to avoid those games in P.E. or just avoid P.E. in general? And you used to help me with sick notes? Haha! Well, A. luckily, did not get my lack of coordination and skill and courage in sport. She just gets out there and gets involved and runs around and participates fully with her peers. She has so many friends, and gets along with everyone. You would be so proud of her. Actually, I know you already are.
But the funniest was when one of her classmates asked me if I was A’s grandmother. Did you hear that when the boy asked, as he sat at his seat with his grandparents sitting on either side of him? I hope you laughed, Mom. My response was, “I look pretty good for a grandma, don’t I?”
A. tried to explain that she was allowed to ask anyone to come. I think she might have thought I was offended by the boy’s comment. But actually, it was such a great few hours. I was so grateful to be a part of it.
Your older brother was there too. I was so surprised to see him sitting in the cafeteria, eating cookies and tea with the other grandparents. Chai and biscuits. That was your thing, Mom. The more I write about the events of that day, the more I wonder if maybe you really were there, somehow.
Later, when A and her friend came back down to the cafeteria with me (I think they were doing whatever they could to miss math class-haha!), the head master of the school was speaking to all the grandparents.
I don’t think A. and her friend heard this part, because they were chatting and trying to negotiate how many doritos were a fair trade for a stick of kit kat. I had given A. a Kit Kat bar which she couldn’t wait to break open. I chose it because I know it was your favorite. Actually, every once in awhile I keep one in my purse, especially when I know I’m going to see her. Plus, I wanted to give her a little gift to say thank you for think about me and you on this day. Her friend saw it and A. saw her friend’s Doritos, so they tried to make a deal on how they could each get a little bit of each other’s treats.
The headmaster was reminding all the visitors what an impact grandparents have on their grandchildren. He said he was reading recently about how grandparents can really shape the values that their grandkids can have, sometimes just as much as the parents of those same kids.
And I want you to know that you have definitely shaped A’s values. She has your loving, giving heart. She is so full of smiles, is caring and sweet and she remembers you, and so much of what you said and did with her. She will always remember you Mom. I can feel it. You may have only had 8 years with her, but your impact will last with her forever. I can see it already. She smiles at every memory of you, and she says your name with such warmth and happiness.
And I know you felt sadness at not being able to build more of a bond with your youngest granddaughter. Not getting to know her, and her not getting to know you enough. But she will know you, Mom. It’s impossible for her not to because she has all of us around her who will carry your lessons and love and memory with us forever. Even in the less than three years you were around her, I believe that was enough to connect with her. She got a sense of you which she will carry with her always. And besides, your son, your eldest granddaughter and I, and the rest of your family will be sure to continue to teach little M. about you. Your eldest granddaughter has adopted values from you, and knew your love. You have shaped who she is and how she sees the world. You have influenced who she will become. And she will carry this with her and pass it on and impact her little sister with it. So that in itself means that your light will shine on both of them, always, regardless of how much time you had with them while you were physically here with us.
Maybe you are already finding your own ways to shine on both of your granddaughters anyway. Knowing you, this can’t be far from the truth. Those girls are everything to you. And I know how much happiness being a grandmother gave you.
I am also personally aware what an impact a loving grandmother can make in a very short amount of time. Say hi to mine for me. Tell her that I always think of her. I hope she knows that you both deserve a best grandmother award. There was no one like you two. And there never will be.
I am so lucky to have two such beautiful angels watching over me now.
Please Mama, continue to take care of my Mom. And Mom, we promise to watch over your granddaughters.
Happy Grandparents Day! I heard there is an actual Grandparents’ Day- an official day set out to celebrate grandparents, but it is actually sometime in autumn. But I am going to wish you one now since we had a mini one at A’s school.
Every day should be grandparents day anyway.
Love you Mom.
Tonight, I’m blowing you kisses from me, your son, and his daughters- your granddaughters.