As always, it’s been forever since I have shared any stories or thoughts at length…
But when something is really heavily weighing on me, this is the only way I can get that weight off my chest.
So here goes.
My Grandma Kitty passed away on May 6th, just a few months ago. She was the most selfless human being alive. She adopted my mother and her twin sister, my Aunt Marlene, when they were small. She mothered them as if they were her own. Throughout her life, she continued to care for her 6 children as well as caring for other women’s children. At the age of 73, she took on a newborn baby boy named Ray and cared for him for almost ten years until he was able to go back to his father.
She sent all 21 of her grandkids money on their birthdays and Christmas, without fail every year. She waited on us hand and foot when we came over, offering to make us tea and food and telling us to choose whatever channel we wanted to watch on TV. She taught us all how to play cards and scrabble, and she loved yard sales and costume jewelry.
She was a spitfire, always saying what was on her mind and making everyone laugh. She was tough. She thrived through two open heart surgeries and many other issues as unfortunately towards the end, there was pain from growing older. She stayed the same wonderful, happy, and intelligent woman until the end, and even celebrated her 83rd birthday with a pool party full of great conversations and laughter.
When she went to the hospital in May, we all knew it wasn’t going to be good. She had had a heart attack, and multi organ failure had begun due to sepsis. She was strong, holding out and forcing herself to breathe for days while her family began to mourn and spent some precious last moments with her.
We all wept by her side and held her hand and helped the nurses give her what she needed. She talked to us, even though she was in a state of cloudiness and discomfort, she knew who was around her. To my surprise, the night before she passed, she even had conversations with us. She said, “Elise, my Elise” and talked to me about the ugly dolls she used to have. It was actually quite spiritual spending time with her before she passed. She spoke of God and Jesus and passing through to the other side. She was a very spiritual woman so I am thankful she was able to hold God’s hand as he took her home to be with Him.
Fast forward to now, when the family is still mourning the greatest loss but finally somewhat accepting it… and unfortunately we are tasked with dealing with the physical things that must be managed after someone passes- including their belongings.
My mother, father, sister, and I were invited over to her home to choose an item to remember her by, and collect any other items that might be useful to us in our households or for decorative purposes- all things that would fill our lives with her presence so we can feel peace about her passing and have her memory all around us.
Before now, I had never lost someone I was very close to… sure, I have lost people I cared about before, but they were people I never got to know deeply, or friends who passed while I was young…
One way or another, I have never been in the position to take something from someone who has passed away, even as a memento.
It was strange, looking in her home, searching through her things. Seeing things she wore often and holding little items she treasured. Everything smelled like her, reminded me of her… but she was and is gone.
Her things are remnants of her, but to be truthful, things are just things. When we all pass away, our belongings will be given away or sold, and they might carry on from generation to generation, but we will nevertheless be gone. Thinking about that while looking in the rooms and closets of her house… it was an out of body experience actually. I kept uncontrollably saying “Oh Grandma…” with a sigh and sadness in my voice.
It was very odd, to be holding her memories, yet mourning her passing… I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. And although I have some items that will be well-loved and used for years, I will always look at them and remember the hole that her leaving this Earth has left behind.
My mom, dad, and sister were there with me, providing peace and comfort. It is funny how death brings some closer together, helping them to get through the difficult times and lean on one another through loss.
My Grandmother was a beautiful woman, and we have some of the best memories together… but now I have some special things to keep close to myself and share with my friends, family, and children someday.
Thank you Grandma, for all that you gave me while you were on this Earth, visible and invisible. And thank you for all that you left to me after you went Home.
Love you always.