This is a unique mother’s day to me and will be a first for my family without my grandmother. I know there are 14 grandchildren, myself included, 3 great grandchildren and her four sons, and dozens of extended family, that will be missing her most this mother’s day. I’d like to share a bit about my grandmother and how this loss will transform mother’s day for our family.
I often find myself wishing I had taken more pictures with my grandmother. I wish I’d asked her more about her life and how she was, rather than always letting her care for me. I wish I’d learned more from her despite all that she taught me. I was the luckiest of all her grandchildren to constantly be so close to her both geographically and emotionally. Yet I still feel like I didn’t see her enough, love her enough or capture enough memories to last me the next 60 years without her. I know that many people feel that way after someone has passed. After her passing friends would write me messages telling me they’d always wanted a grandmother like mine. People reaching out to me shifted me to a place of comfort in finding appreciation and gratitude that I got to know her at all. She was always so supportive. For example:
As a medical student, the first thing I ever removed from someone’s ear was from hers. While practicing on her as my patient for my big clinic exit practical exams I happened to stumble across a grass seed that had been lodged in her ear canal for god only knows how long; and successfully removed. I miss being able to stop by for a quick hug (or ear exam) or pick up a phone and hear that comforting voice and words of wisdom or encouragement on the other end.
I’d love to tell all of you who’ve lost your mother figure or someone you looked up to to be patient with yourselves, and that each holiday will get easier, but I know it’s not that simple. What I can say is that time definitely makes it easier. I can already see the transformation happening. As I allow the relationship I had with her to transform, I smile at a memory rather than cry. The communication I feel strengthens and when she’s there, part of me can sense it, even though it’s not the way I want.
I never realized my grandmother was old until the day she fell ill, 3 months prior to passing. She was one of my best friends, somehow, without ever crossing that boundary of mother and child. She was a work of art; beautiful, inside and out. Even into her 80’s we’d clean out our closets and do clothing exchanges with each-other. I miss her smell and the ability to giggle, laugh and share joys with her. I miss spending time together and I’ve realized it’s okay to miss her but holding those sentiments close to my heart fosters sanity.
This mother’s day weekend I’m going to connect with my grandmother by taking my mom and dad on a day trip to the Scandinave baths as they pass through town. I’ve wanted to take them since first visiting the spa after my grandmother passed. It’s nestled into the mountain, quiet and is somewhere that I’ve been able to find that connection to something greater than my physical self. Surrounding myself in nature and silence gives me a place to continue moving through the feelings of loss, guilt and shock. To transform the type of relationship I had with her to what it now must be. I know my parents are wanting their mothers this mother’s day and together we can honour both the living and those passed. As much as we can show our mothers we love them with flowers and meaningful DIY gifts, in all truth, we can never really repay our mother figures for all they have done. What we can do is tell them we love them even at the worst of times and embrace who they are. Take care of them this mother’s day as they have taken care of us. If you are missing your mom this mother’s day, it’s okay. Whether we feel it or not we can take comfort in the connection of memories, faith and the knowledge that they are forever instilled in our hearts.