family

grateful to the last

I haven't been sure if I was going to write this post. But tonight it feels right, sitting in a quiet house. Rain hitting the window behind the chair I'm sitting in. Dog sleeping soundly across my feet.

My grandmother died last Saturday. It happened very quickly. Which I know was merciful. Just days ago, on Elizabeth's birthday, we sat at the table and I listened as she sang her 'happy birthday'. I remember purposely not joining in, because I wanted to savor the moment. Her voice. Her joy. Her love for my sweet little Elizabeth.

grateful to the last

And I knew she wasn't doing well. But I still held out hope. She was this force in my life who I knew, deep down, wouldn't be there forever. But somewhere, this little child inside me wanted her to be and wouldn't acknowledge it being any other way.

Her passing truly marks the end of an era. Her influence reaches well beyond her fifteen children, her grandchildren, her great grand children and into neighbors, the community, the church, even lives in other parts of the world.

grateful to the last

I hold those two years we lived on her farm close to my heart. I find myself frantically searching my mind for memories, moments we shared. My family, my children became part of her routine–expected for lunch, Sunday dinner, the walk up to feed the kitties, the push-mowing of the driveway, the daily paper laid out beside the telephone.  Having us there became normal.

I learned her routine. If I didn't hear her pull out of the garage for Mass at 8:35, I'd make my way over to the house to find her, make sure everything was okay. If she wasn't home by 9:30, I'd know it was a grocery store day and I'd try my best to be home at 11:00–to help her carry bags into the house.

What I learned from her and what she taught me in those two years is endless and not easily put into words. Some of it is simple, some of it has become such a part of me now, I can't figure out when it wasn't there at all.

There are gifts that she gave to my children, that I hope I can continue to give them.

People ask me how I'm doing. I'm doing okay and I'm not doing okay. I feel blessed to have had my life become intertwined with hers for those two years. I feel blessed that I was able to help with her care, in her last days. That I was able to sing for her. And tell her that I loved her. And that she taught me so much. That I got to kiss her soft cheek many, many times. That I walked to her bedside one evening, and she looked up and said my name, the way she did every time I walked in the door to her kitchen.

I feel blessed.

That one day, we stood shoulder to shoulder and made granola at her counter.

That one day, she told me I was an amazing mother.

That one day, I listened to her tell someone else what wonderful children I have.

That one day, she told me how much she loved hearing me sing and play her piano.

That one day, she brought over six baby chicks in the back of her car and handed them to my little girls.

That one day, she stood against a fence post and watched my daughter ride.

That one day, she told me I was looking particularly lovely.

That one day, we sat on the edge of her bed and watched derby races.

That one day, we worked in her garden.

There were many, many days.

I feel blessed. I will miss her dearly. But I know we'll see each other again, in a much better place.

Until then, I'll see her in others, in her gardens, in my father, in my children, in myself.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“We measure time by its deaths, yes, and by its births. For time is told also by life. As some depart, others come. The hand opened in farewell remains open in welcome. I, who once had grandparents and parents, now have children and grandchildren. Like the flowing river that is yet always present, time that is always going is always coming. And time that is told by death and birth is held and redeemed by love, which is always present. Time, then is told by love’s losses, and by the coming of love, and by love continuing in gratitude for what is lost. It is folded and enfolded and unfolded forever and ever, the love by which the dead are alive and the unborn welcomed into the womb. The question for the old and the dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the onliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.”

{Wendell Berry :: Andy Catlett}

I haven't been sure if I was going to write this post. But tonight it feels right, sitting in a quiet house. Rain hitting the window behind the chair I'm sitting in. Dog sleeping soundly across my feet.

My grandmother died last Saturday. It happened very quickly. Which I know was merciful. Just days ago, on Elizabeth's birthday, we sat at the table and I listened as she sang her 'happy birthday'. I remember purposely not joining in, because I wanted to savor the moment. Her voice. Her joy. Her love for my sweet little Elizabeth.

grateful to the last

And I knew she wasn't doing well. But I still held out hope. She was this force in my life who I knew, deep down, wouldn't be there forever. But somewhere, this little child inside me wanted her to be and wouldn't acknowledge it being any other way.

Her passing truly marks the end of an era. Her influence reaches well beyond her fifteen children, her grandchildren, her great grand children and into neighbors, the community, the church, even lives in other parts of the world.

grateful to the last

I hold those two years we lived on her farm close to my heart. I find myself frantically searching my mind for memories, moments we shared. My family, my children became part of her routine–expected for lunch, Sunday dinner, the walk up to feed the kitties, the push-mowing of the driveway, the daily paper laid out beside the telephone.  Having us there became normal.

I learned her routine. If I didn't hear her pull out of the garage for Mass at 8:35, I'd make my way over to the house to find her, make sure everything was okay. If she wasn't home by 9:30, I'd know it was a grocery store day and I'd try my best to be home at 11:00–to help her carry bags into the house.

What I learned from her and what she taught me in those two years is endless and not easily put into words. Some of it is simple, some of it has become such a part of me now, I can't figure out when it wasn't there at all.

There are gifts that she gave to my children, that I hope I can continue to give them.

People ask me how I'm doing. I'm doing okay and I'm not doing okay. I feel blessed to have had my life become intertwined with hers for those two years. I feel blessed that I was able to help with her care, in her last days. That I was able to sing for her. And tell her that I loved her. And that she taught me so much. That I got to kiss her soft cheek many, many times. That I walked to her bedside one evening, and she looked up and said my name, the way she did every time I walked in the door to her kitchen.

I feel blessed.

That one day, we stood shoulder to shoulder and made granola at her counter.

That one day, she told me I was an amazing mother.

That one day, I listened to her tell someone else what wonderful children I have.

That one day, she told me how much she loved hearing me sing and play her piano.

That one day, she brought over six baby chicks in the back of her car and handed them to my little girls.

That one day, she stood against a fence post and watched my daughter ride.

That one day, she told me I was looking particularly lovely.

That one day, we sat on the edge of her bed and watched derby races.

That one day, we worked in her garden.

There were many, many days.

I feel blessed. I will miss her dearly. But I know we'll see each other again, in a much better place.

Until then, I'll see her in others, in her gardens, in my father, in my children, in myself.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“We measure time by its deaths, yes, and by its births. For time is told also by life. As some depart, others come. The hand opened in farewell remains open in welcome. I, who once had grandparents and parents, now have children and grandchildren. Like the flowing river that is yet always present, time that is always going is always coming. And time that is told by death and birth is held and redeemed by love, which is always present. Time, then is told by love’s losses, and by the coming of love, and by love continuing in gratitude for what is lost. It is folded and enfolded and unfolded forever and ever, the love by which the dead are alive and the unborn welcomed into the womb. The question for the old and the dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the onliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.”

{Wendell Berry :: Andy Catlett}

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.