How do you break the news, once again, of the loss of a family member? How do you do it with grace, with understanding, with the appropriate amount of emotion? How do you talk to people about it, if you talk about it at all?
Two days ago my grandmother passed away, suddenly yet peacefully in her home. She had her last few years battling many health issues and fighting them like a champion. I am happy to say that she did not die in a hospital, she did not die with tubes and machines attached to her, and she did not die in pain. I cannot express how comforting that is.
My grandmother was incredible. She took on the role of “grandmother” with all her heart and she loved us, cared for us, and was attentive to us more than we ever asked. Just this morning we were talking about her flowers, her orchids, which she took care of with such attention and love.
She took care of her grandchildren just the same.
She was a special woman, always with something to say. I’m not sure how she ended up with so many random facts in her brain but there was hardly ever a conversation that she did not have input for. Sometimes she would speak up with little one-liners that took everyone aback with their insight and hilarity.
I had just told my parents yesterday that after my very first boyfriend and I had broken up when I was fifteen years old, I was standing beside my grandma waiting for my dad to park the car. We had a quick conversation about the break up that went like this:
Grandma: So I hear you and Chris broke up.
Me: Yeah, we did.
Grandma: He was a very cute boy, but he looked like a bit of a womanizer… Where do you think your dad went?
She had his number, alright, and clearly long before I did.
And that’s why I loved her.
It seems that everyone has a situation like that in which they remember my grandma most clearly, a little conversation in which she threw out her opinion or a fact that no one ever expected. We have done more smiling and laughing over these moments than we have in awhile and that is something we have also been able to take comfort in.
I am happy that in the last few years I have been allowed to learn a little bit more about my grandma’s life. Through pictures, passports, marriage certificates, and small tidbits of information, there were things about that woman that I never would have guessed. She clearly came from money (she had a pony. Seriously.), and the pictures of her and her family from her childhood are wonderful to look through. There’s so many pearls, furs, and beautiful landscapes, it was rather unexpected for first. I have to say, my great-grandmother looks just as much as the Queen Mum as my grandmother did. Must be a British thing? Around eighteen years old she moved to Winnipeg from England to marry my grandfather. I’m not sure, but that might be one of the bravest things someone can do – just to leave their home and travel across the world to the unknown.
Three children and six grandchildren later, she was the woman I knew now.
My biggest fan and my most loyal customer – I seriously wouldn’t have had half the cake orders that I did if it weren’t for her. She never failed to think about me, to ask about my life, my friends, and my school. Just this Thanksgiving she sat with me and watched football for a good few hours.
“It was nice” seems such a benign thing to say, but I’m not sure how else to say it. It really was nice.
I’ll miss her. I already miss her even though I’m finding myself still in a bit of numbness. She was a wonderful woman and I can say, honestly, that if her grandchildren only got half of the love that she gave us we still would have been very, very lucky.
I love you. I miss you.
We all do.