|My own sweet Mama, Me, little sisters, Janice and Janessa, my precious niece Maggie, and my beautiful Grandma, Thelma.|
I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. My Grandma will always be one of the most precious people in my life and I'm pretty sure it was my fear that my writing just wouldn't do justice to how wonderful she is that kept me from sharing about her for so long. Even now, I know that there is no way that my words on a page and a picture on the screen will do justice but I hope that as you read, memories of your own Grandmother will fill your heart. I know she would love that. Over the years my Grandma has given me so much, but I had no idea that her last gift would be one I'd never "open" till she was gone.
Have you ever had that person in your life who you knew that no matter what changes came, they would always be the same? When I was nine my parents divorced. I remember just a few months before my parents split, telling my Mom about another girl in my 4th grade class whose parents' were getting a divorce. In my 9-year-old mind I remember thinking this was the worst news any child could ever hear and thinking to myself how glad I was that the same situation would never happen to me. Needless to say, my own world turned upside down a few short months later. My father was in my life, then out of my life, then in my life, and then finally it was just my Mom that I looked to. Really, she had been the one I had always looked to. I'm pretty sure she learned how to be a "constant" from her Mom as well.
Our family forged on with my Mom as a single-parent doing everything she could to keep all of us happy, healthy, and strong. She's the strongest woman I know. Throughout all of the changes there was always one thing that remained the same, my Grandma and the home she had made with my Grandad in the mountains of Pennsylvania. We all lovingly call it "the farm". Her home was my retreat and still is. It didn't matter what was going on in life, as soon as my car pulled onto that bumpy, red clay lane, the rest of the world disappeared.
It was almost always my Grandmother that greeted me with her huge smile, a "Hi Jennifer" followed by a hug. She was almost always in the kitchen, making pies or washing dishes or preparing the next meal. My Granddad was usually outside in his shop making furniture or working on his latest painting. In all my years of growing up I never heard her utter a harsh word. Her patience for all her grandchildren (and there were a lot of us!) was amazing. And oh how she loved my Granddad! And boy did he love her! My Mom never had much of a chance to be the example of how to love your spouse, an opportunity I know she wished she could have shared, but when I think about love and when I picture what it looks like, I picture my Grandma and my Grandad.
Her Very Last Gift
Her Very Last Gift
My Grandad and Me
It's never been an easy task to get my Grandad to slow down. Even now at 93 he can be hard to keep up with! He still lives on the farm, cutting down trees, building furniture, doing his own home repairs, cooking his own meals, and walking several miles on the property each day. When we were younger I didn't get to spend as much time with my Grandad because he was always off working on one project or another. Right before my Grandma passed away, I got the opportunity to sit by her bed, hold her hand, and just be with her. She wasn't saying much but she opened her eyes and in them I saw every bit of love that I had known my whole life. She looked at me and sweetly and softly said, "love you". It was the last words that I'd ever hear my Grandma say to me but how special that those were the words she chose to say.
In a way, my Grandad was the last gift my Grandma gave to me. Losing her made me realize how precious time is and I think in a way so did my Grandad. As a wife and a mom, life had gotten busier and I didn't often stop to spend time doing things that were truly important. Suddenly, I was making it a point to visit my Grandad and when I visited the farm, my Grandad stopped what he was busy working on to sit at the table and just talk. Most days when I visit now, we talk for hours. I had an incredible relationship with my Grandma and though I miss her terribly I'm grateful for the unexpected gift that I received after she made her way to heaven; a deeper relationship with my wonderful Grandad, that to my Grandma, I will forever be thankful for.