I don’t particularly enjoy holidays, throw in the fact the Sunday paper doesn’t contain the usual stash of coupons and I can be downright disappointed. But due to a series of fortunate events I was blessed with a great number of things this weekend.
Is there anything better?
First my paternal grandparents (both rapidly approaching 90 years old) found out my lawnmower is not exactly, let’s say, running. Thus, I have not mowed the lawn since I moved in last November. It’s cool, I like the jungle look. They believe it will overtake the house and I’ll be suffocated by dandylions. So they generously gave me their spare lawn mower, an electric one no less.
Additionally, they are cleaning house for a visit from my older cousin when she flies out from England this month. So they sent a nice small dresser after noticing I have no dressers. I can’t quite bring myself to put this one in a bedroom yet so it’s doing duty in the kitchen holding some linens.
My maternal grandparents moved out of their home in 2007 to live in Assisted Living. This weekend, a month after grandma passed away, my mom and aunt decided to sort through the storage shed on the property. There are renters in the house (don’t get me started on that topic!) but we went to the backyard and began to look around.
Most of the time we shared stories about grandma as we came across something unique. There was the blue microwave she had for three years before we realized the blue was actually protective plastic. Underneath was a very nice stainless steel, lol. There were family bibles and antique furniture, pictures and portable comodes. A little of everything.
My mom and her siblings have discussed the rest of their belongings and spent the last few years distributing items across the country. My mom, aunt and I worked on the rest today.
One item I very much wanted was this porch swing that my grandpa sat on every morning with his coffee, waving to those who passed and watching the cars go by. It’s in my front patio next to the flowers I planted yesterday.
In the shed we found a black metal storage rack. It’s now in my garage and being used as storage for my canned goods until my Dad and I install the custom pantry later this month. If you’ll notice to the right I was also motivated to hang up my dog’s leashes, organize paper sacks from the grocery store, sort my recycling and hang up the canvas bags I use.
Another treasure from the shed is an American flag for my front yard. You’ll see the lawn has been mowed. This is big for me as the last time I was behind a lawn mower I was probably, I don’t know, 8 yo?
Mom and I spent a nice afternoon at my house, I worked on the lawn, we stacked firewood, I cleaned the garage and Mom did some scrapbooking. I made tacos for dinner and it was a very relaxing day. No eggs to dye, no church services for me, just a calm day in the yard and being productive.
I apologize at the beginning as my thoughts are going to be rather scattered.
If you’ve never planned a funeral, before or after the death of a loved one, let me tell you it can be exhausting. In the wake of knowing someone you care for will shortly die or has already, you’re responsible for knowing their most personal desires. From favorite music, pictures, flowers, clothing and scripture to who s/he would want carrying their body to rest or the type of stone to adorn the grave, I know understand funerals are beyond complicated.
Throw in family that are at best emotionally retarded and you’ve got a situation on your hands.
Many of the things I did to prepare for my own grandma’s funeral were tasks I was willing to take on. The only published writer in the family, I wrote the obituary, edited the eulogy, prepared the memorial brochure and corresponded with the pastor. As the only one with the contact and will to do so I called the three pall bearers outside of the family, cried with them over the phone and made arrangements. The one entrusted with the family photos I made a slideshow of my grandma’s life.
In writing the obituary I was instructed to mention the memorial fund that the family set up in grandma’s honor. It’s this fact that brings me to the point of this post.
Yes, I have a point. Though well obscured I’m sure.
As I notified many of my dear friends of grandma’s passing I sent a few of them (can’t remember now for the life of me) a link to the online obituary I wrote.
The last month has been one of the hardest of my life. Continually assaulted by memories of taking grandma shopping, sitting in prayer, playing with a cat or simply laughing and giving her a hug, I have never felt more alone.
Don’t get me wrong, my friends have been beyond supporting during this time. The one I mentioned in my last post who came to the service has been a great source of encouragement. My grandfather’s friends who seemed to know I was a minute away from breaking down have become so dear. Even a simple task like going out to lunch with Tres and talking about it all has helped so much.
Yesterday, I received a card in the mail. Not the first as my mother’s friends have sent sympathy cards in the past few weeks. But this one was special. This card came from my (adopted) sister and several close friends from the Women in Red. More than the card they gave generously and included a check for grandma’s memorial fund as well.
Ladies, I wish I could be there to thank and hug each of you individually but until we meet again I can only offer you my most sincere thanks and these flowers from my garden.
For Sheila, Denise, Paula, Susan, Phoenix, Kathy, April and Tanya, 8 beautiful roses for 8 beautiful ladies:
I am twenty-four years old. Twenty-four days ago my grandmother died of Alzheimer’s Disease. The song “24” by Switchfoot has always been a favorite of mine. The lyrics are simply stunning:
Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago Twenty four days ago everything changed. It’s so hard to understand, even myself. Even with a disease like Alzheimer’s my grandma was so incredibly sweet. She loved everyone she met, famously telling me last year “I meet new people every day!” She loved my grandpa so very much. Even in her final days under the haze of morphine she brightened when he kissed her cheek, told her he loved her.
One of the last coherant things she said to me was “I’m so proud of you.” I cried then, and now, as I knew she would not be there for the rest of my life. She won’t be there if I get married or have children of my own. (Don’t tell her that; she believed I was married with a little girl!)
Having never lost someone who was so central to my life I don’t know how I’m handling her death. I don’t know if it’s normal or abnormal or even care at the moment.
I miss her. So very much.
One friend of mine came to the services. He came and we talked and it helped. For the last three years she was the one I talked to. About anything and everything because chances were she wouldn’t remember the next minute. I never got tired of telling her happy stories and watching her enjoy those fleeting memories.
Twenty-four years with an amazing, loving grandma is so much more than many people have.
Switchfoot ends their song with this verse:
I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You’re raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts. I don’t know what the next twenty four years or even twenty four days or hours will bring me. But I will try to make grandma proud whatever comes my way.