Last week I received word that my beloved Grandma Rosemary had passed away. It was quick and it was sudden. The wound it left was deep. There are moments in time that will forever be burned into our hearts and minds. The moment I found out she was gone, is a moment that I will never forget. I will never forget what I was doing, which child I was holding, and how much it hurt.
In John 11:35 it says that "Jesus wept." I have cried many times in my life but I have only truly wept on a few occasions. The day I found out my grandmother was gone, I wept. Everything felt so raw and exposed. This wound that had been inflicted upon my heart was so intense and there was nothing I could do to cover it up.
Grandma Rosemary was a beautiful woman inside and out. She often smelled of hand soap and tea leaves, a scent I would breath in deeply whenever she was around. Her hugs were tight and her kisses soft. Her laughter would fill an entire room. She loved so deeply and intensely it was impossible not to leave her feeling a certain joy and peace that only comes with unconditional love.
At her funeral my father honored his mother with a eulogy that captured her true essence. Life is filled with both comedy and tragedy and sometimes we can become complacent in the in-between moments of those big events. Not Grandma. Grandma lived those in-between moments to the very fullest. She was a woman of detail, as a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She embodied Mother Teresa's saying of "Do small things with great love." That was Grandma Rosemary. All her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would receive a birthday card from her every single year. In the card she would include a crisp $5 bill. That was the kind of detail and love in which she lived her life. James was the last one in our family to receive a birthday card from her. For some reason I hadn't put it away in his piggy bank yet... After we received word that she was gone, I attached a note to the bill explaining that this was the "last one", and I carefully folded it up and placed it in the piggy bank. Someday James will see it and I will tell him all about his amazing Great Grandmother but until then that perfect little detail it tucked safetly away...
The boys and I were blessed to be able to go back home to Michigan for her funeral. It was a very conflicting trip. The reason we were going was just too painful to think about but yet the idea of being around family was exciting and uplifting. The weekend was spent telling stories about Grandma and reveling in the amazing woman that she was. We laughed, we cried, we sang the same songs she used to. We visited her home (the same home my father and his siblings grew up in), admired her garden and took care to take our shoes off before walking on her immaculately white carpet. We spent time with Grandpa Dale and told him how much we loved him. Grandpa didn't say much during the weekend but you could tell that half of him was gone... However, Grandpa is strong. He lived a life totally and utterly devoted to my Grandmother. Now he knows that he must continue on doing things exactly as she would have wanted. She will be with him everyday, at every moment, and every second for the rest of his life.
It was hard to not expect Grandma to just turn a corner or come out the back door to be with her family. The pain of being so close to her yet so far away was evident on the faces of all who were present. However, everyone knew that it was exactly as she would have wanted. Grandma loved nothing more than being surrounded by family. Everyone knew it too, people kept saying "This is exactly what she would have wanted". And it was. Though the lack of her presence hung in the air, she was there, in the details. As her grandchildren (and great grandchildren) laughed and ran around, she was there. As the soft autumn breeze blew in, she was there. As the leaves slowly began to turn colors, she was there.
She was there. Her smile, her laughter and her light is inside each and everyone of her children and their children and their children's children.... There was a little piece of Rosemary all around us. For those that called her mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend, there is that piece of her beauty within us. This is her legacy. This is the beauty she left behind....
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the little piece of silliness we got from her, too...
The days spent with family were so desperately needed. It brought healing and peace. While we are all still in great pain, it is comforting to know the mark she has left on all of our hearts. For me, the past few days gave my motherhood a "pep talk" if you will. As I reflected on her has a mother and grandmother I knew that it was the same qualities she contained that I want for myself. Back when Grandma only had 15 grand kids, her pastor asked her to give a 5 minute talk on Mother's Day on what being a mother meant to her. My Aunt Mary lovingly read it at her funeral. I wept the entire time. I was so inspired and felt that she was speaking to my very soul. It was as if Grandma knew exactly what I was struggling with and she spoke the words I desperately needed to hear. Perhaps some day I'll share her words with you. But for now, I feel that they need to stay close to family, tucked away in the hearts of her daughters and granddaughters.
Spending time in Michigan and doing some of her favorites things was really important for the healing process. The process however, is far from over. The reality of these whirlwind days will often lead me to catch my breath and allow a few fresh tears to fall down my face. It still hurts so much and the pain is still so very deep. But just as Grandma would have wanted, once that moment has passed, I focus on the task at hand and do it with as much joy and love as I possibly can. I remember how much she loved me and how much she enjoyed seeing me grow and become the woman I am today. I know that she is watching over me and is now a special intercessor as I ask for strength and guidance from God in this journey called motherhood.
I love you Grandma Rosemary. I always have. I always will.