We gathered yesterday to say goodbye to my grandmother; sweetheart of one, sister of 8, mother of 9, and grandmother of 21. It wasn't as hard to let go as we'd feared, since we felt she was at peace and enjoying what she believed the next life to be. My aunts gave wonderful eulogies, speaking of her no-nonsense manner and her natural mothering abilities. They didn't read parenting books in those days, but somehow it all turned out right.
Her kids gathered together a great display of pictures from over the years and it was so nice to glimpse a bit more of her life before we said goodbye. Some parts I remember, and some help illustrate for me why I felt like I did about my grandparents. Being the first grandchild, I got wrapped right into the kid-raising era. I'd never seen this photo before, and think it shows that spirit well:
I'm the baby in the middle, with my parents around me. Grandma's on the left with some of my younger aunts, and my oldest uncle (my godfather) and youngest uncle (7 yrs older than me) are on the right. She was never a doting, knitting grandma, but a matter-of-fact, busy lady who still managed to show her love in a subtle way.
As a kid, I was proud tell my friends that she worked at a hardware store and even sometimes swore! She did manage time for baking (with lots of lard!) and late night advice sessions. She could solve the world's problems and tell it like it was. She was raised in a very traditional world, but was always curious and accepting of her offspring's crazy new choices. I grew up knowing that she was very smart, despite the fact that she'd had to quit school at a young age. She was always happy to hear what new adventures we might be having, living vicariously through her kids and grandkids.
I will miss her, but there are many lessons offered by her living and dying. I will try to heed those lessons; she can be with me still.
More snippets and glimpses of the new baby chicks soon; they are doing well. The generations carry on! Peace!