A year ago today, our family suffered the loss of our beloved matriarch. It was hard to fully comprehend at the time, as she had just been laughing and opening presents at my house with the extended family on Christmas Eve. A week later, I wrote a post reflecting on all the wonderful things she had passed down to us. It helped me really process the concrete reasons she was adored by the whole family. The last year was hard, as it is for everyone when they lose a loved one. With such a huge part of the family gone, each long standing tradition that approached carried a mix of joy and dread because we knew it wouldn’t be the same without Gram. But, as you’ll see below, Gram taught us to carry on, and we followed in her footsteps this year.
I had such a heart-warming response to the original post last year. I thought I’d reshare it for all the new readers, and as a reminder of how to live in 2016 for those of you who read it last year.
Our family was blessed with a woman who lived her life to the fullest for 92 years. Known by everyone as Gram, my grandma was one of the most fun-loving and adventurous people you’d ever meet. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while and wish I would have done it earlier. Gramps had been waiting for his bride in heaven for 26 years and couldn’t wait another day. We were blessed to get one last Christmas with Gram before she was called off to be reunited with him on December 29th, 2014.
Although I missed the opportunity to tell her all these wonderful things I learned from her, I know I’m glad I have the opportunity to share them with all of you now. I chose five things I’ve picked up from watching Gram over the years, but these are just the tip of the iceberg of her awesomeness 🙂
Our extended family has some very long-standing traditions that bond us together. Gram has helped form them over the years and loved that we had traditions unique to our family. She always lit up when the big family was together, and even more when we were taking part in something that had been going on for decades. I think our biggest (and weirdest) example is our Christmas Eve gathering. For 30+ years Gram, her kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids have gathered together on Christmas Eve for sauerkraut burgers & sloppy joes. We also had an annual girls’ trip to Vegas every Mother’s Day and “pie night” the evening before Thanksgiving. These annual events have created so many fun memories and I hope everyone has (or is inspired to start) traditions unique to your family.
Try Anything Once
Gram parasailed in Hawaii, rode a go-cart, roller-bladed, and shot a paintball gun – all AFTER the age of 75! She wasn’t a drinker, but even wanted a sip of a Lime-a-rita a couple years ago in Vegas. Life shouldn’t be about fearing new things, but embracing them!
Play to Win
Most of our family has a super-competitive gene, and I’m pretty sure it came straight from Gram. We first of all love to PLAY and Gram was always on board to participate whether it be cards, board games or our annual family “Tournament of Champions” backyard games. Anything she did, she gave it her all and wanted to win. We cracked up one time as she watched the family play a fierce game of Catch Phrase and said “It doesn’t matter who wins, everyone just has fun playing.” She said that as an observer. Had she been playing, we knew she would be going for the win every time. Even though we’re all pretty boastful winners, she did teach us some balance in that you have to PLAY before you have the opportunity to win, so the most important part is jumping in and enjoying yourself.
Look Your Best
Gram was never pretentious, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized my mom’s long standing desire to be well put together anytime you are out of the house came from her mom (and was passed down to me – at least most of the time 🙂 ). It wasn’t about being cool or having the best clothes & accessories, it was about properly representing who you are on the inside. For her last trip to the hospital, she was upset she had her slippers on instead of proper shoes!
Life Goes On After Loss
In her 92 years, Gram suffered many great loses. Siblings, a son who still had his own children at home, a grandchild, and her much-loved spouse all died too young. She mourned of course, but also endured these loses with strength and grace. I can’t imagine being married 47 years, and then having to adapt to a new normal of being without the love of your life. But Gram overcame the loss and shared another 26 years with us.
It is a comfort to me knowing how much joy she felt throughout those years. It means we can do the same thing and adapt to our life without her. It won’t be easy -there will be tears and she will never be forgotten – but watching her grace gives me hope that we can carry on.
Thank you for letting me share her legacy with all of you!