Monday, August 13, 2007

The Circle of Life

I said good-bye to Grandma today, probably for the last time.

Grandpa may be losing his mind, but his body is strong, so I might see him again.

But probably not Grandma.

I wasn't really prepared for it all. I came to the family reunion specifically knowing that it might be the last time I see them. I knew they weren't doing well, but....

I had the privilege of sitting next to Grandma. Of holding her soft hand. Of feeding her spoonfuls of yogurt. Of giving her glimpses of who and what she couldn't see. She would break into a huge grin when she would hear the sweet sound of the small children's laughter and chatter.

She kept talking of how much she wished she could see all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who had gathered to honor her and Grandpa. I tried to communicate the love and honor that we feel. Tears came to my eyes as she simply turned the glory to God. Her humility in her suffering touched me.

Indeed, God has been so good to us. And how can I be anything but grateful to have had loving grandparents who have lived for this long, and to have so many wonderful, wonderful memories?

But with the gratitude, of course, comes great sadness. I finally had to take a walk to let the tears flow. They flowed again as Dad wheeled Grandma away toward the car. The realization of the temporary finality of it all was too much for me.

The emotion is draining, and I also find myself in a reflective mood. How strange it was to be at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but not to be the one splashing in the pool. I and my cousins and siblings are the parents now, and our parents are now the grandparents. I watched my dad holding one of my nephews and wondered what the next couple of decades will bring for us all as the circle of life continues.

This process of birth, life and death is a rich and fulfilling one. But it's also sobering. Time passes, and it passes quickly. Moments like these cause me to reflect on the importance of savoring life's stages, of making memories that can last, of putting God and family first.

Someday my children will sit by the side of their grandparents as they prepare to pass on. I hope they will feel the joy that I have felt that comes of sweet memories, of fun, of love, of the treasure that is family.

8 comments:

Sylvia said...

Sometimes the veil seems so thin! *hugs*

RoAnn said...

Thank you for this beautiful post, m & m. Time does indeed pass quickly. And the older I get, the faster it flies!

I am at the stage where my grandparents and parents are already on the other side of the veil, and my husband and I are the oldest living generation in our immediate family.

We talk frequently nowadays about (as you so beautifully phrased it) "the importance of savoring life's stages, of making memories that can last, of putting God and family first."

I hope I can be as humble as your grandmother, should I have to bear difficult health burdens in the future. And I hope I will have loving grandchildren, such as you, to bring me joy and comfort in my declining years. :)

M&M said...

Thanks, Sylvia and RoAnn. Life is an interesting journey to be sure!

Naiah said...

Bittersweetly beautiful, Michelle--thanks.

Téa said...

I remember visiting my Grandparents several years ago, and left knowing somehow that I would not see my Grandma again in this life. I sobbed all the way out of town... Despite the intense sorrow, I think that knowledge was a gift, to remind me to enjoy that visit with her, to express my love and gratitude while I had the chance. Without it I would have wept bitterly at her death with the realization I'd blown my last opportunity.

M&M said...

Naiah and Téa, thank you for your comments. Téa, I was especially grateful for the chance to serve Grandma a bit. It helped me feel that I could say good-bye with some sense of peace. I'm so grateful she was able to come for that last day of the reunion (she's being cared for elsewhere, and we weren't sure she would have enough energy to make it).

Anyway, I'm also grateful for loving friends who will give me cyberhugs and share kind words and thoughts at this bittersweet time. Thank you!

Eric Nielson said...

I don't usually like goodbyes. Fortunately it will not be a permanent one.

Tigersue said...

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I have lost all my grandparents. My fathers mother died before I was born, his Father when I was a senior in Highschool, my mothers mother 10 years later, and my grandfather about 7 years ago. I take great comfort in the fact that they have a vested interested in my life and the life of my children. I can think of no better way to honor them than to live the best I can.