Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Legacy of Love

The last few weeks have been incredibly emotional.

My first Mother's Day started out on an incredibly sweet note as we dedicated Beckett at church. However, on my way home from church I spoke to my mom on the phone. She was unusually emotional - which I first thought was due to the fact that she and my dad weren't able to be in town for the dedication. But after a few minutes she told me that it looked like my grandma was going to pass that day.


Deep down, I wasn't that shocked - my Grandma turned 93 in March and has been in poor health for e last several years. Since this past fall, she has been in and out of the hospital 5x. But the news still blew me away. Amazingly, Grandma rallied that afternoon and was up and about and requesting baby back ribs and carrot cake for dinner. We new it was only a matter of time though, and on Thursday morning we got the call that she had passed.



The last week has been a blur. We spent the time with my family and grandpa - sharing stories and a lot of tears. The hardest part was watching my Grandpa. After 67 years of marriage he still said to me, "we both thought we had a few more years left..."


But what was really incredible was my grandma's funeral. At 93 you would think there would have been a fairly small tour out given that the majority of her friends no family have already passed....but people just kept coming! There were the Muslim owners of the restaurant she and my Grandpa frequented - along with almost the entire restaurant wait staff (think average age 18-23), neighbors from Michigan. New York, and California, and several of the nursing staff who has helped care for her over the last 2 years. They all came with tears and stories - so many stories. It amazed me the lives my Grandma touched in her final years of life and the witness she was to so many nonbelievers. Our family assumed the nursing staff must frequently attend funerals for those they card for, but when we asked they all emphatically said no - Grandma Esther was special.


Let me give you an example. As a child my grandma lost her mother at the age of 14 months....except she didn't know that. Once her mother passed her dad quickly remarried a widow and the couple had a son together. For years, my Grandma suffered what we would now plainly label as extreme emotional abuse at the hands of her stepmother - only to be told by a neighbor girl at the age of 13 that her mother really wasn't her mother after all. This event undeniably has a profound effect on my Grandma's life, and because of the lack of love she felt as a child, she seemed to make it her mission to make sure those around her felt loved - especially children. One of the ways she shared this love, even if just for a moment, was by becoming the "sucker lady" at our local mall. Almost everyday she and my grandpa would go for walks around our local mall. Grandma would slowly walk up and down the corridors, pushing her walker - and every time she passed a child she would stop and say hello and offer them a sucker from her basket. Now, she had to learn that times have changed and if was a good idea to ask the parents before offering the treats, but she continued this tradition for over 10 years!


I was able to speak with my grandma twice on the phone during her final week. She couldn't say much, but both times she made sure to tell Brandon, Beck, and me how much she loved us. But the best part was - I already knew this. Grandma never hesitated to tell you how much she cared about you or how special you were to her - and you knew her words weren't just for show.


As a strong believer, I know she is celebrating in Heaven now, and I praise God that she is free from the immense physical pain that plagued her for so many years. But that doesn't change the fact that there is noticeably a void at our family table - her spirit, sweet kisses, and never ending voicemails will be truly missed.



1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry for your loss Julianne. I lost my one and only grandmother last year and it has also left a void. What a sweet memory of her showing others with love. Such an amazing legacy to leave behind! I know these types of losses are typically hardest for those they leave behind, so I'll be praying for your grandfather in particular. I love seeing the photos of her with little Beckett. My grandmother got to meet Victoria once before she passed and I am still mourning that fact that I did not get a picture of them together.

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