Monday, July 18, 2011

A Moment to Be Thankful For

Today my grandmother, my mother's mother, passed away.

It was only a few years ago that my husband and I had six of our grandparents still with us. We had my two grandmothers (both of my grandfathers died when I was in high school), and my husband was fortunate to have all four of his grandparents still living and in relatively good health. We knew that we were fortunate, as we were nearing our 30s and had many friends whose grandparents had already passed on.

As our childless years began to stack up with no end in sight, I used to spend a lot of time worrying about having a child before we lost those precious members of our family. I used to see those prized "four generation" and even FIVE generation pictures and, as each year went by with no baby, it would weigh more heavily on my heart.

To put it plainly: I love old people. I just do. I love their memories and histories and stories. I like to visit with the elderly and just listen to them speak. And after I became interested in genealogy several years back, I really began to treasure the times when I could call or sit and talk with an elderly relative of mine or my husband's. I listened raptly, soaking up every word like a sponge and usually taking notes so I wouldn't forget a thing. I pored over old documents and photos, spending hours researching on the internet and visiting cemeteries all across Louisiana. I began to wonder if I'd ever have the opportunity to pass it all down to my own descendants, but it became an extremely interesting and satisfying hobby for me and it was a great way to fill up my time while we waited and hoped for a child of our own.

In a funny way, too, researching my family history brought me closer to having better relationships with my grandmothers (particularly my dad's mom, who will turn 94 next month). At the very least, it helped me to know and understand them a bit better while I had the chance.

As time went on and our dear grandparents' health began to decline, I realized that I needed to let go of my dream of seeing our children in their aged arms. They had lived full lives, and while we weren't ready to say goodbye (and never would be), if it was time for the Lord to call them home then it was time, regardless of whether or not I had a child. Of course, it was never about me in the first place. I needed to just be grateful for the time I'd had with them and record and cherish their stories for me. Because I wanted to know. If I would be able to one day pass them down to another generation, whether through my own children or those of our siblings, then that would be a bonus.

We lost my husband's paternal grandfather and grandmother in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In 2009, his maternal grandfather went home to be with the Lord.

Lily was born in 2010, and we made it a priority for her to meet our remaining grandmothers (my two and his one) as soon as possible. Lily had met all three by the time she was five months old, and it brought me so much joy each time. It was a culmination for me, and I know it was for these three women too, as they had also spent the past decade praying for this child of ours that we were finally able to see and touch and hold.

At long last, I was able to take pictures of my daughter with her great grandmothers. It was indeed another "longing fulfilled" moment for me.

And while I still can't say I was ever extremely close to my maternal grandmother, that is something I will always be grateful for. At the funeral on Wednesday I will be sad for our family's loss, particularly for my mom as she buries her mother. But I'll also whisper a quiet prayer of thanks to the Lord for moments like these that I'll remember forever.

Lily with my mom's mom, taken on New Year's Eve 2010/11, six months before she died:

Lily with my dad's mom, age 93, taken in February 2011:

Lily with my husband's maternal grandmother, age 84, taken in February 2011:

And again in June 2011:


Rebecca said...

Darnit, you always know how to bring a tear to my eye!

I am so sorry for your family's loss. You will be in my prayers.

I am so grateful you have these moments and pictures to treasure for a long time to come. I especially love that last picture. You can just feel the love and joy radiating.

I have also been intrigued by our family history and genealogy, but for some reason have never taken the time to really sit down and pore through it all. My dad and his aunt compiled a ton of information, but I think they stopped keeping track of things and people about 15-20 years ago when life got busy for us all. Maybe that will be my project in the near future, to start a genealogy of mine and my husband's family.

Again, you're in my prayers as you say goodbye to your Grandmother.

Andi said...

Very sweet, Stace. Praying for your mom and family tomorrow. My siblings and I lost the last of our grandparents over a decade ago. One we never knew, and the one I was closest to died in 1987 so we never really grew up with grandparents we were particularly close to. But the last time I was home, my mom gave me a letter that my aunt had just sent her when cleaning out my grandmother's house. It was a letter my mom had written to my Grandmother in 1975 "from" me thanking her for my Christmas gifts. It's a really sweet letter and I was glad she gave it to me.

Renovation Girl said...

So sorry for your family, but glad for those treasured moments. I love it how the elderly look so frail, but put a baby in the room and these elderly woman can hold them for it!!!! Many prayers for your mom...

Becky said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss Stacey. I have just prayed for you all. ((HUGS))

Those pictures are a true treasure, they brought tears to my eyes. Just beautiful! I am so happy that the Lord gave you the desire of your heart in this as well.

Connie said...

Some of my absolute fondest memories were spent in those cemeteries with you. Thanks for helping us all keep the memories alive. I love you!

Amazing Life said...

Praying for your family and your pictures are wonderful.

I seem to miss my three grandparents and my husband's grandparents even more now that Joseph has joined our family. I know they love him from heaven, but it would have been nice their joy in holding and meeting him.

Melody said...

Love that last picture of them both laughing together....that is priceless. I love that both young and old in that picture represent joy in the moment.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Stace, I'm so sorry for your loss. How beautiful that she had the chance to know your joy in Lily before God called her

Ro-bear said...

Sorry for your loss!

Another awesome heartwarming post. What a great tribute to you and Chuck's grandparents! As Andi already stated, we lost all of our grandparents long ago, but I (and both my kids) are very close to my wife's Grandmother and I dread losing her.

Rachel said...

Yet another post I can COMPLETELY relate to. I am an old people lover---big time. I am always the one you will find at family functinos sitting at the "old people table' asking questions and soaking up every word. I lost my very beloved Grandmother this past May while I was pregnant with Oliver and I was and still so saddened that she did not get to meet him as she was so so proud of her great grand children. I treasure the moments she had with Sophie and Luke though---and also my husband's maternal Grandmother who passed away before Oliver. What a sweet post. I love the pictures...made me tear up. I am sorry for your loss. Even those we know have lived incredible long lives still bring us so much sadness when they go. I know for me, even though I know where they are and that I will see them one day, I am still so sad and missing them so so much. Much love and peace and comfort to you sweet friend!

Anonymous said...

so sorry to hear of your loss. Those pictures you will treasure forever. After losing my grandfather a few months after Morgan was born I treasure those pictures more than anything and Im so glad that I took the time to take them.

A New Beginning said...

I am not sure who is happier in that last picture.

What a sweet post.