Today was the hardest day I think I’ve ever had in all my 53 years! I had to say goodbye to a much loved grandmother who gave us safe haven, loving arms to chase away our fears, strength to give us wings, and smiles that lit up our lives beyond description. Her smile was simply amazing. Indescribable. It shone through her eyes brighter than any beacon in the darkest night. It gave us all a sense of safety, joy, but most of all like we were the single most important person in the world to her. There were five of us though, but she still managed to make us all feel like we were all equally her favorites. Even though she had no favorites. We were all loved endlessly, overwhelmingly, equal.
We lost her just as the weather is about to turn toward the warming days of spring – her favorite time of year for the promises it held just waiting the encouraging touch of the sun and a gentle warming breeze. Those first early blooms were met with excitement, then encouraged to go further and show off their bounty through the increasing days of sunlight, warmth, and gentle rainfalls. Easter was a particularly fun time for us as little girls growing up under her ever-watchful gaze. She and our grandfather would go to extraordinary lengths to make an annual Easter Egg hunt a thing of great adventure, fun, but also of learning to follow clues. Were they they ones who first gave me that early taste of solving puzzles, finding clues, solving mysteries? Perhaps, but it has made life fun every single day as a result. Each of us was assigned a number, myself being #5 as I was the fifth granddaughter. We had a clue we had to follow, given as a riddle -each of which rhymed by the way-that led to the next clue with our number at the top. That would continue with an egg at every clue and riddle to be solved and followed, until the end of the path. What was at the end of these clues and eggs? To be truthful, I honestly don’t remember becasue to me it wasn’t about the end, it was about the adventure in getting there.
They both were lifetime learners forever encouraging us all to be one also, ever curious to find out more, stretch our educational wings, be more, stronger, better. They both knew so much about the worlds around them. She loved birds, particularly hummingbirds. But all birds were a thing of beauty to her and my grandfather. She could name every bird that ever perched on her feeders, hopped across the patio, or pecked through the foliage beneath the juniper bushes. She knew the plants growing wild in the woods behind their home, could name every type of tree, but didn’t offer this knowledge in a showy way. It was more of a sharing of what she knows in a simple, one-on-one way communicating something in hopes that you too will carry it forward somehow, someday to someone who could benefit from it. Those walks through their woods, the tiimes spent looking through the books on birds and even butterflies were journeys we all five of us enjoyed at one time or another iin our young lives.
Her life was much like those Easter Egg Hunts and walks through the trees of our childhood. It wasn’t about what was at the end, but about the in-between. It was always the journey that gave us what we needed, not the destination. In this, we can now give back to her what she so generously gave to us. We give her the wings to soar in her own journey, not focusing on that destination because we know what is waiting there for her. Our grandfather is smiling alongside her family, with open arms to greet her, welcome her, and give her joy and rest as they’ve waited so long for her to join them. Ninety-eight years was plenty of time for her to complete everything she ever needed to do for us, with us, and nothing was left undone. Her time here was done, and we could no longer be so selfish in keeping her with us, so she’s now with her loved ones, resting, smiling, rejoicing. We will see her again one day and smile right along with her at the end of our own journey.