Every family has a core. The one person, or group, that holds the rest of us together like glue. Where everyone can gather, call upon or just know that they’re holding it all together for the rest of us.
For our family this was my grandparents. Each and every Sunday the entire family gathered around my grandparents dining room table for family dinner. There was chatter, laughing, and most importantly, lots of love. As grandchildren, we’d spend time with our grandparents each summer learning about gardening, bird watching, and the pure act of being children.
In our immediate family, I was the youngest grandchild, and the only girl. I never saw any difference in this, yet as I’ve grown older I’ve learned to appreciate that.
My grandfather passed away in 2010, then my grandmother passed away a few years later. I’ll never forget each of those moments. The moment I got a phone call saying that my Pap had suddenly fallen ill and wasn’t going to recover. I had recently moved 3000 miles away from him. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Still today I miss him more than I ever thought I could.
My grandma’s passing was different. She was ill for a very long time. Her illness left our family in constant question of what she could comprehend or how long she could hold on this way. She was tough. She made it down a rough road, long and tiring, but she persisted until she was ready.
In 2013, my daughter was born. We took a family trip back to the east coast where my grandma, who now lived in a nursing home would meet my daughter for the first time. We visited her nearly every day during this vacation. As our trip was about to close and we were to head back to Arizona, but my heart said no. I had to stay. We changed our tickets to remain close for a few extra days. I knew deep down that this would be the last time I saw her.
The last time we visited the nursing home, we took photos of my daughter sitting on my grandma’s bed with her. We didn’t know if she understood who this baby girl was so we explained to her that this was her great-granddaughter.
After years of showing no emotion, speaking no words, she shed a single tear as my daughter laid beside her. A moment I’ll never forget.. she understood! She knew exactly who we were and what was happening. She knew just as we did that this was the end.
We left the next day. Five days after we returned home, my grandma passed.
Roughly two years ago, my family gifted my grandma’s bedroom furniture to me. I knew immediately that it would be perfect for my daughter’s bedroom. Growing up my grandma’s furniture was painted avocado green. Sounds cute, but not really. Recently, we stripped it, stained it, added new hardware and placed this beautiful family piece in my daughter’s bedroom.
It meant the world to me to do justice to such an important piece of furniture.. it was my grandparents and I wanted them to be proud.
I was lucky.. I grew up in an amazingly loving family. And everyone who had the opportunity to know my grandparents loved them.
You never know what tomorrow will hold. You never know if you’ll get the chance to say what needs to be said. Don’t wait until tomorrow when you show love today.