I went to a funeral for a childhood friend’s grandmother. Honestly, I’d known the wonderful woman since I was six and in many ways she was sort of a grandma to me at times as well. As I sat there looking at the family and listening to her life story, I was reminded of the beauty of that generation. The unique way they looked at life and how they loved their families. I then started missing both my great grandmother and my grandmother who were both deceased.
They are the generation of unconditional love givers. I think they know loss beyond what most of us do. Many lost siblings or family members at young ages. Some going thru the “Great Depression” saw that material things come and go, but that families survive if they banded together. Although they have seen the world change in the many decades they have lived, they have chosen to stay close to their families. Many of them still remember everyone’s birthdays; attend baby showers, funerals, graduations, weddings and important events. They are there, always present.
Their children, my parents’ generation, worked hard and some are getting to retire. Most of them had both spouses working and their kids raised themselves or got used to them not being around as much. An independence grew between the parents and kids in a way although they are still family. Technical advances were toys for the adults and the kids. Dinners could be cooked in the microwaves or delivered and then eaten in front of the television. It wasn’t necessarily wrong, but very different. Now, that the two parents that worked long hours to afford the newer cars, multiple televisions, computers and the ever rising costs of raising a family are getting to retire, they want to enjoy their time. They put a lot of time in at the office so getting travel or do things on their own is well deserved.
My generation is used to fast response and little family time. We were our own kind of rebels wanting to figure out who we were as the world was ever changing. The encouragement from our parents that we could be anything push a lot of us to think big but the fear of failure was also very real. I think that our grandparents were the ones that stepped in and gave us the kindness of acceptance no matter what encouragement we needed. They may have seemed “simple” or “old fashioned” but we always knew that they would love us no matter what path we took. They would remember stories about us, talk to their friends about us and feed us with love when it seemed like the world kicked us around. They slowed us down and without realizing it, let us catch our breath.
The loss of my grandmother left a hole that over time became so much more apparent, my need for her to help me pause and reflect. She could tell me stories that helped me know that I was going to be okay or that could get me to laugh. It’s funny because I wouldn’t have to even to tell her that there was something wrong, but I swear she just could tell. Or maybe that was just the way she was and her gift to give was the knowledge she possessed of the years she lived.
I dream about her and wake up so sad. Things that I can never talk to my own mother about I know she would listen and understand. My grandma could defend me without raising her voice but saying a few statements to make the other party to stop and think. I guess time and experience with a receptive heart make a person very wise.
I only hope that someday I can be a person like my grandmother. We all experience a lot in our lives. What we do with it is up to us. This world holds no promise of ever slowing down or that families will get closer. I guess it is up to us as to who we will be to others to the best of our control.
For now what I see dying is the slowness of living in the moment, unconditional love that is practiced, enjoying simple things like a good cup of coffee, knowing where we come from, the keeper of stories and the filler of holes in our souls when the world seems to kick us down.
Rest in peace all of you dearly departed ones who deserve your sleep.