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Saturday, March 28, 2015

She believed in me...


My Grandmother died the morning of Wednesday, March 11th. The entire day was surreal.  I knew it was coming. It was no surprise, yet it was hard to believe she was gone. All that was left were years of memories.
Within the hour of her passing, I began making phone calls for her final arrangements. Hunter was on spring break and was still sleeping when I received the call about her death. When he heard me on the phone discussing flowers, he looked at me with a confused stare. I slowly took the phone from my ear and said, “I’m so sorry sweetie, Mama passed away this morning.” His response was, “Are you kidding me?” I gently said, “No.” He stared at me blankly, as if he didn’t know how to react. Then, he started asking me about our plans. He wanted to know days and times for our travels and what we would be doing when we got there.  He feels more in control when he know the timing of our plans for everything including dinner, ballgames, and weekend events, so I guess this was his way of gaining control of the situation. Then, he went on with his day, but stayed very quiet and introverted. 

I spent the rest of the day on the phone trying to get everything perfectly organized for her funeral, which was my way of taking control of the situation. It was the only way I could emotionally deal with it all.
My hubby left work early to pick up Grant from school. When Grant got home, I sat next to him on the sofa and told him Mama had passed away. He seemed unsure of himself, like he didn’t know if it was okay to cry or if he was supposed to cry or whether he needed to comfort me, so I told him it was okay to cry…he did, as I held him.
The rest of the day and next few day before we left for home were odd. We would all have moments of quiet sadness and moments of laughter. We were busy trying to get everything ready for the trip. Laundry, phone calls and last minute shopping were welcomed distractions from the harsh reality.
On the way home, I tried to write some words about my Grandmother. In my heart, I felt like I needed to write her eulogy. I needed to be the one to speak about this woman who was so special to me. My Grandmother and I had always been very close. I was her only grandchild and I looked up to her. People always told me I was the “apple of her eye”.  I was definitely a complete pain in her ass. We were both stubborn. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Our relationship was a unique blend of love, respect and a complete battle of wills.

My Grandmother loved me. I never had any doubts, but she would not hesitate to call me out. I could say anything to her. She made me demand more from myself because she demanded it from me.  She believed in me completely and always reminded me that I could be anything I wanted. She taught me the value of hard work and that respect is earned. 

The thing that has struck me most about my Grandmother’s passing is the realization of how much her belief in me shaped my life. I didn’t really realize how much it bolstered my self-confidence and helped me to dream big, until she was gone. Now, I know the importance of doing the same thing for my boys. I know the importance of making sure they know that I believe in them;  I believe they can do great things in life; I believe they can set this world on fire. Hopefully, they will believe it too!

My Grandmother is gone. Those words are unbelievably hard for me to type. However, the life lessons she taught me are here, and will live forever in my heart. They are the principles that guide me daily. They are gifts that will live on because I am teaching those same ideas to my boys, and hopefully they will pass them onto their children.  Losing her is hard, but it is because of everything she taught me that I’ll be okay in this life without her.

 

 
With overwhelming love and respect, I spoke these words at my Grandmother’s funeral on March 17,th:
 
I have been struggling for the past few days to find the perfect words to say about my Grandmother. It is so hard to describe what a person means to you when they are so intricately woven into your being. How do you put those feelings into words?
My husband said, just say what you have always told me. Tell them about your relationship with her; that you were with her almost every weekend growing up; how she taught you to do your best, speak your mind and always be honest.
Suddenly, I knew what to say…This woman I called “Mama” was not the baking cookies, sewing quilts kind of Grandmother. No, those were not her things. She was the drinking coffee, playing cards kind of Grandmother. She was hard working and a little hard headed but I learned so much from her.
Before I could write, she taught me how to use a typewriter. When I was in high school, she bought me a Franklin planner and showed me the importance of staying organized. I still use my planner every day and would be lost without it. From her, I learned the importance of reading and that surrounding yourself with great girlfriends will get you through almost anything in life. Most importantly, she told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed it, because she believed in me.
My Grandmother was a tough nut to crack. Life wasn’t always easy for her, but she had an amazing resilience. She never complained. Instead, she just kept trudging through life with amazing strength and courage, living without regrets or apologies.
The weekend before she passed away, I held her hand and promised her I would be fine. I told her if she was too tired, she could let go because she had given me the tools I needed to be okay in this life. Then, I brought her hand up to my lips and softly kissed it…as I took her hand away, I felt a gentle tug as she brought my hand to her lips and gently kissed me back.
To tell you about my Grandmother means reflecting upon myself, because underneath it all, I am my Grandmother’s granddaughter, and for that I will be forever thankful.