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: