My Grandma France passed away almost two weeks ago. I am still solidly in the denial phase of grieving. It is simply currently unbelievable that someone with that much life in her lungs could suddenly be “no longer with us.” I don’t really understand. When people tell me they are so sorry for my loss, I don’t know how to recieve those words.
I do know that she really wanted to go. I know it was time. She spent all of June in her hometown with her sisters, and July and the beginning of August hosting family at the lake that so clearly represented heaven to her. She handed all of her grandaughters the piece of jewlery that would be theirs when she was gone the day before I got on a plane to return home. She wanted to do it now so there would be no hurt feelings. She didn’t want stuff to get in the way of our relationships with each other.
I know in my head that this is for the best and yet…I have no grandmothers left. How in the world are you supposed to function in this world without grandmothers?
As I have been searching for ways to mourn I find my hands busy. If you knew her, I do not have to tell you how fitting this is. My grandmother, of the homemade christmas presents for all 30+ family members, of the baby quilts for all great-grandchildren, of the 100+ stolen to sell at the yankee peddler fair, of the wash the sink at 4 am because I woke up and it needs done, of the cookie porch. She took her sewing and knitting down the hill to the beach every time she went, just so she could get just a little bit more done. I keep picturing her in the pontoon boat, stuffing the arms of the raggedy anne and andy dolls she was making for the youngest generation.
When people talk of youthful excuberence, of child like wonder, I picture my grandmother. I think it was one of the things that made her so amazing as a grandma. She remembered what it was like to be a child. She felt your pain. When the dessert ran out before you could get upstairs and there was no icecream left in the freezer, she would stick her bottom lip out with you because she was genuinely sad, it was a tragedy of sorts. She understood.
I was 14 when she mentioned that she had planned on buying a wake board. I had used my friend’s earlier in the summer and I really, really wanted to be able to wake board rather than ski behind the boat. I was desperately afraid that the time we had at the lake would run out, and it would not be there yet. Please, could we get it now? She could have scolded me, after all I should certainly be grateful for the lake houses, the boat, the skis, the knee board, the tube. She could have told me it was not that important. I think she made a special trip to the marina just to get me it. She had that red wake board the next day at dinner. She saw how much I wanted it; it became important to her too.
I feel so blessed to be one of her grandkids, to have experienced the abundant love she poured out onto all of her grands. My cousin remarked, and it is true, “everyone knew that Grandma played favorites, if you were with her you were the favorite.”All 17 of her grandchildren felt distinctly favored by her. We all were special, each one was favored.
As my cousins and I have been sharing memories on Facebook for my sister Emily, the oldest granddaughter, to weave into a eulogy, more often that not the tears running down my face have been coming from laughing so hard. Grandma loved to laugh, and loved to make us laugh. She was pretty famous for her lead foot, and would coast down the hill as she covertly switched the digital speedometer to kilometers so the grandkids would scream that they were going 150 miles per hour. Once, when a few of us stayed home from skiing, she dared us to run around in the snow on the porch, and joined us in the crazy behavior. If it sounded like fun, Grandma was in, and she certainly hoped you would join her.
Grandma wanted everyone to join her all the time. When I broke the news to Grandma that it was too difficult for my family to head to the lake for Christmas she used it as a bartering chip to get me to spend two weeks out there in the summer. She was absolutely happiest at the lake, surrounded by her family. All of them, as often as possible. That was heaven for her.
My sisters and I are singing the hymn, Lord, You have come to the Lakeshore for the memorial service this weekend. And it is remarkably easy to picture her, at the eternal lakeshore surrounded by the ones who came before her, waiting patiently for the rest of us to arrive.