My gram passed away this weekend. She was basically my mother figure and made me the person I am today. Death is always inevitable, but it’s still never a fun pill to swallow. Thank you for your condolences in advance, but she’s been miserable in a home for a year now with dimentia and I believe her wild soul is finally free. She wasn’t the gram who I knew that raised me, and it’s hard to see your loved ones deteriorate like that in front of you. As I’ve been planning and rescheudling and booking rental cars and hotels just to get home in time to say one final goodbye, I saw the obituary come across my email, and it made me mad. (Read it here).
I know we came from a simple time and small town out on back country roads, but to sum up a woman’s life in two sentences broke my heart. She was so much more than that, and I wanted a chance to rewrite it for her.
Gram was one of the strongest women I have ever to this day known. Even in old age and battered arthritis she would get down on her hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floors, wiggle the stove out and clean behind it, all in the same day making three home-cooked meals, milking cows at the ass crack of dawn, tend to the garden for fresh veggies, can food for winter… shall I keep going? A farming life was not an easy life. To me, she showed me the true meaning of hard work, and how to do things for yourself because no one was going to do it for you. I learned (the hard way!) to respect my elders, never to have a sense of entitlement for anything, bake pies, pluck a chicken, grow tomatoes and beans, and fetch milk right from the cow for dinner. She taught me how to prune rose bushes, dig a ditch, sew quilts from scratch, start and drive a tractor and basically any other life skill I would ever need to survive on my own.
She taught me how to be a great human being, have gratitude and respect for all, and even how to shoot a gun. (however I bet she changed her mind after I would go hunting with my grandpa for groundhogs and cut off their tails as trophies and bring them home to her. She would scream and chase me out of her kitchen with those things all the way back into the fields they came from – true story!).
Overall, she was an incredible person, but you wouldn’t know that from her obituary. And it makes me sad. I want the world to know that the reason I am the person I am today is credited mainly to her, and that in itself is a victory that I hope she is looking down on and proud of.
But it makes you think. What will people say about you when you die? Will you be proud? Will our children look back and say the same about us? Are we really doing a good job? We don’t have to make monumental accomplishments to change the world – although that would be nice too – we just need to know we’ve taught people to be loving and kind to everyone. It’s easy to raise kids, it’s fu**** hard to be a hands-on parent and teach them to be decent people. You can’t just throw them an iPad and say good luck – they’re watching and learning, just as I did from my gram. I want people to know I lived, I loved, and I left my son with a sense of pride to be raised by no other mother than myself. I know I wouldn’t have traded my gram for anyone.
And that is how her obituary will be read for the rest of time…right here.
Love you, Gram.