Saturday, May 21, 2011

In loving memory of my Grandmother

When I was a little girl, I remember sleeping over at my grandparent's house.  There would be fluffernutter sandwiches, chocolate milk, my grandfather's big bowl of Corn Flakes with a banana in the morning. 

One night I slept in the big bed with my grandmother.  I was tired; I wanted to snuggle up to her and go to sleep.  I asked her to turn out the light. 

But she was praying the rosary and she said I needed to be patient.  Because this was important.  She showed me the beads, she recited the prayers for me, she slipped an arm around me and kept praying as I drifted off to sleep.

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When I was around 12 or 13, I was in her kitchen for Thanksgiving.  This year was different from others; I wasn't running around, bouncing on the beds, playing with my cousins or trying to steal a piece of fudge from the dining room without being caught.  This year, I was with the women in the kitchen.  My grandmother opened the drawer where she kept her aprons (to the left of the sink), pulled one out, and gave it to me to wear.  I slipped it on.

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When I was 21, nearing the end of college, I lived with one of my aunts while I finished school.  My grandparents lived nearby.  They suddenly had a much closer view of the person I was becoming within my family.

They did not like what they saw.

And my grandmother told me so.  She took pen to paper and wrote me a letter.  I wanted to pretend that that letter never existed, that it's words were untrue, that the person my grandmother was disappointed in was someone else.  But I knew she was right.  I knew there was more to me than what she saw, but that I could not deny the things she said.

I found myself, again, at my grandmother's kitchen table.  I was terrified to sit there, before my grandparents, but I was ready to apologize and to hear the things they had to say.  I was ashamed and afraid as my grandmother poured me a cup of tea.

The first thing she said to me was that she was proud of me for coming to the table to have this conversation.

And, immediately, I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

When my first son was born, my relationship with my grandmother changed.  Suddenly, we had a new connection, as mothers.  She talked about potty training, she talked about being a stay at home mother, she talked about the resilience of little ones as I worried about everything little thing under the sun (prompting her to finally say, having grown impatient with my never ending list of Things I Felt I Was Doing Wrong, 'You know, you really have to go out of your way to break him'.) 

My second son was born.  My boys grew.

And then my father, her firstborn, got sick.

He was 3,000 miles away.  Neither of us could easily get to him to see him, to know he was alright, to take him in with our own eyes, to hug him the way we wanted to.  When he was finally well enough to visit, just 3 short weeks ago, my grandmother and I talked about how relieved we were to see him for ourselves. 

"But the goodbye," she said, with tears in her eyes.  "It's going to be a very hard goodbye." 

"Yes," I agreed.  "It is." 

I felt as though I belonged in her life.  And she belonged in mine.

And my Grandma, who slipped from this world this past Thursday, was so very right.

It's a very hard goodbye. 


  1. I'm so sorry, Jenn. What a lovely tribute to someone who was obviously a very special lady.

  2. So sorry for your loss, Jenn. She sounded like a wise, beautiful woman, and I hope your Dad is doing ok. <3

  3. Beautiful and honest. So sorry for your loss Jenn.

  4. sorry to hear about your Grandmother Jenn. And happy you had a visit with your dad! Bittersweet.

  5. I found your blog tonight, which seems so very fitting. My grandpa pasted away a few hours ago and since I cant sleep I am reading my blog reel. What you said is so perfect. The goodbye will be very hard. very very hard. I'm sorry for your loss, knowing that they loved us makes it just a little easier. But not much