My beloved centurion grandmother in-law said her final goodbye last week. The depth of my sadness tells me that I must have believed she would be with us forever. When I was given the news, a storm cloud settled over my heart and began to rain. I miss just knowing she is walking the same earth as me.
My little family has suffered many losses over the past few years; my mother-in-law, my mother, and now my grandmother-in-law. As these remarkable women have passed from this life to the next, it seems they leave the best parts of themselves as a gift to those who have loved them.
My mother-in-law was the most joyful woman I’ve ever met. She was full of energy and had mastered the art of not allowing the dark moods of others to influence her positive energy. She bewildered me with this skill. I longed to posses it myself. Inexplicably, in the months following her death, I began to exhibit some of these qualities. It was as if she had created a trust fund composed of spiritual assets to be disbursed upon her passing and she named me the beneficiary of her joy.
There was no one whose advice and wisdom I sought more than my mother’s. She was a loving, patient mother, who held me in high regard. Her words to me were kind, and her thoughts about me were good. She was a firm disciplinarian without crushing my spirit. When I became a mother myself, I finally realized the degree of her love, and I wanted to replicate it with my daughter. Although I adore the precious child God gave me, it seems that just as my mother-in-law did, my own mother had established in her last will and testament for all things un-material, that I should be given a greater dose of motherly love and wisdom.
Maybe it’s my own spirit rising to fill in the void left by two amazing women, or maybe there is something more going on than I realize, but I have grown richer in character. It is as if once a precious soul is released from a mortal body, it is free to infuse those left with the better parts of its existence.
What I admired most about my grandmother-in-law was her tenacity. It got her a job when she first arrived in this country and didn’t even speak the language. It gave her the strength to sit at the bed-side of her husband day after day as he navigated the twilight of his life. It is why none of us would even bother turning down a second helping, a second cup, or a second slice – she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Grandma – if you are wondering what part of your essence I’d like to inherit, it would be that one!
I count it a compliment when I’m told that I remind someone of one of these remarkable women. As those who have gone before me start to leave and leave me in charge, I need all the help I can get.
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