Grandparents’ Day

grandparents day

Dear Mom,

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.

grandmas

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.

 

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Angel Healing

Dear Mom,

I hope you don’t experience sadness anymore where you are.  So I’m not sure if this is for you or for me.  Maybe it could also be for anyone else out there reading this blog.  But I just wanted to say goodnight, Mom.

You are my  angel.  But I do hope that you also have many angels protecting and caring for you now.  Love you and miss you terribly. I’ll try to blow a kiss towards the crescent moon that’s out tonight. Maybe it will be directed towards you. I blow kisses to the moon when no one is looking, hoping you will catch them, or at least feel them whisk your way.

angels

It tolls for all of us…

“…Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

Church-bells

Dear Mom,

As I left my place this morning, a man asked me if the elevator was taking awhile.  I thought about it and said, “Yes, I guess I have been waiting a little.”

I noticed he had a few garbage bags on a cart, as well as a box in his hand. I asked him if he was cleaning out his storage locker and he said he was cleaning out his brother in law’s place. His brother in law had just passed away last week.

I stumbled with every word I said after that.  I’m sure “I’m sorry” came out somewhere in my words, but it didn’t seem like enough.  And then I realized I started talking about the box in his hand- a box for a hand held vacuum cleaner. I think I said I need one for my car, and he responded that unfortunately, the box is empty.

God, what was I thinking? But I know what I was thinking. I was thinking, God, what’s with all this someone just up and dies again business all about?  I don’t get it. And because I don’t get it, and this stab in my stomach had formed that suddenly climbed up towards my throat into this uncomfortable ball, I just rambled, about stupid, meaningless things.

I must have seemed so insensitive to this man and what he was going through. But when I apologized, and told him that I actually just didn’t know what to say as the subject was so dear to me- a loved one passing away,  because my mom passed away, he complained about trivial things that then made me wonder how he could be so insensitive.  He said he had to deal with lawyers and funeral arrangements and where to put his brother in law’s closet full of suits.  He said he just wants to be done with it and go back home, to Prince George.

“He was a concierge for a hotel here,” said the man about the brother in law, as I was stepping out of the elevator.

I immediately turned towards him and held the elevator door to stop it from closing. “Did you say he was a concierge?” I asked,  now realizing my own sadness was coming through.  “Yes.  Did you know him?” the man asked.

I used to see this man all the time in the elevator.  He was so friendly and always smiling. He didn’t look like he had any medical issue going on.  And I couldn’t believe that just like that, he was gone.

And we just go on with our lives, either because we are in a rush to catch an elevator, or because he wasn’t related to me, or because his relatives want to get back to their daily lives in Prince George.  But I wanted to then know what happened to him.  Was he sick? Was he in an accident? Why are there no signs out in our apartment to honour this man, who lived on the same floor as me? This man who always greeted me with kindness.  Why am I back in my apartment continuing my day as if nothing happened?

It’s so sad, Mom.  I wonder how your neighbours must have felt when they found out you passed away.  That they would never see your smiling face in the elevator again. And it also makes me angry thinking that they too just went back to their every day lives, as if nothing happened.

What can you do right? I guess that’s what we’re all thinking. What they’re all thinking.

It doesn’t matter if they didn’t know you well, or weren’t a relative.  It affects us, or it should affect all of us, when another person leaves this earth.  I know you understood that. You went to so many funerals, of people you sometimes had hardly spoken to, people you sometimes never even met.  But you knew that each and every one of those people mattered. And you attended their funerals to show that we are all connected, and that that loss is a loss for all of us.  It humbles us, and reminds us that none of us live forever.

And though you never spoke about this to me, I realize now that you were always very aware of this – that our time could come just like that.  How brave you were living and enduring even though so many people around you had passed away, including your own loving mother.

And I so admire you, for being that strong person who always showed up, and always reached out a hand to people who experienced loss.  It didn’t make you too sensitive or weak. It made you compassionate, and loving.  And I am so sorry that I didn’t always listen enough, or take the time to just even sit in silence with you when you would tell me that this person or that person’s son, or this other person’s wife, or so and so’s brother had passed away.  I couldn’t connect to it maybe because I didn’t know how to, or probably because I was too scared to. But you faced the fear, despite how much it must have weighed heavy on your heart. You faced it to honour those people.

What a difference it might have made to you if I had just taken those moments to acknowledge that these people mattered to you, that you were saddened by these losses. That you didn’t have to face this alone.  It’s not about one person, it’s about all the other people that person touched, and all the grief and sadness, and the holes that are caused by that one person being taken from the earth.  It’s a ripple effect of grief. And it reaches all of us.

The bell tolls for all of us, every time.

I didn’t fully understand this until the most important person in my life was taken.

Thank you for teaching me to care about each person around me, Mom.    Thank you for caring so much about everyone around you.

I hope you are getting back all that caring and love and nurturing and peace- a hundred times over- that you gave out.

Thinking about you always.  That will never change. Ever.